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Athletics Compliance Office > Student-Athletes > Amateurism

Only an amateur student-athlete is eligible for intercollegiate athletics participation in a particular sport. Freshmen and transfer student-athletes initially enrolling at a division I institution are required to complete the amateurism certification process outlined by the NCAA via the Eligibility Center. Student-athletes could lose their amateur status, should they:

  • Accept pay or the promise of pay for play
  • Enter into a professional contract
  • Play for a professional team
  • Enter into an agreement (oral or written) with an agent
  • Accept a benefit from an agent or runner
  • Promote a commercial product or service regardless of pay (allow your picture, name or testimonial to be used to advertise a product or service)

In the state of Indiana, it is a Class D Felony for an agent to knowingly or intentionally enter into an agent contract or a professional sports services contract with a student-athlete without disclosure of recruitment via written notice, no later than 10 days before the contract is executed, to the head of the athletic department at the institution in which the student-athlete is enrolled. Indiana does not require agent registration.

It is not an NCAA violation for a student-athlete to merely talk to an agent or financial advisor. The Compliance Office can assist student-athletes in making important decisions regarding life after college athletics and in navigating difficult choices involving professional aspirations.

NCAA bylaws

Under NCAA Bylaw 12.3, a student-athlete (any individual who currently participates in or who may be eligible in the future to participate in intercollegiate sport) may not agree verbally or in writing to be represented by an athlete agent in the present or in the future for the purpose of marketing the student-athlete's ability or reputation. If the student-athlete enters into such an agreement, the student-athlete is ineligible for intercollegiate competition.

Also, a student-athlete may not accept transportation or other benefits from an athlete agent. This prohibition applies to the student-athlete and his or her relatives or friends.

The term "agent" includes actual agents, runners (individuals who befriend student-athletes and frequently distribute impermissible benefits) and financial advisors.

It is not a violation of NCAA rules if a student-athlete merely talks to an agent (as long as an agreement for agent representation is not established) or socializes with an agent. For example, a student-athlete could go to dinner with an agent and no NCAA violations would result if the student-athlete provided his own transportation and paid for his meal.

What happens if a violation occurs?

Example: A student-athlete is befriended by a runner for an agent. The student-athlete is unaware of the connection between the runner and agent. The runner gives the student-athlete long-distance calling cards, pays for meals, articles of clothing and a new car stereo. The student-athlete never asks why the runner is providing him with these items.

The student-athlete's educational institution becomes aware of the runner's identity and the provision of benefits to the student-athlete.

The institution must declare the student-athlete ineligible for intercollegiate competition. The institution decides to ask for the reinstatement of the student-athlete's eligibility and sends a request to the NCAA staff.

At a minimum, the student-athlete will be required to repay the value of the impermissible benefits and will be withheld from a certain number of contests, based on case precedent.

Questions to ask a Prospective Agent

  • Where are you registered?
  • Where and when did you graduate from law school?
  • If you are not a lawyer, what are your educational credentials?
  • Have you ever been disbarred, suspended, reprimanded, censured or otherwise disciplined or disqualified as an attorney or as a member of any other profession?
  • Are there currently any complaints or charges pending against you regarding your conduct as an attorney or as a member of any other profession?
  • Have you ever been implicated or investigated for any violations of NCAA or professional league rules?
  • Are you an NFLPA certified contract advisor?
  • Did you take the NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement Test? What was your score? If you did not take the test, why not?
  • Do you have ownership interests in your company? (Are you a firm or agency partner or strictly an employee?)
  • Can you supply me with a list of current and former clients?
  • What services do you offer to your clients other than contract negotiations (financial planning, tax advice, etc.)? Do you mind if I use my own accountant or financial planner?
  • Who will be negotiating my contract?
  • How many clients have you lost, what was the reason for their departure? Can you provide me with a list of their phone numbers?
  • Who do you consider to be your top clients?
  • What have you done to advance the careers of your clients on and off the field?
  • Do you provide an annual statement to your clients? May I see an example?
  • How do you keep your clients informed of charges?\
  • What is your fee structure? Are your fees negotiable?
  • How and when are you to be paid?
  • What is the duration of the agreement?
  • What are the procedures for terminating the agreement?
  • What happens to our agreement if I fail to make the team; if I am waived; or if I get injured?
  • If I am likely to be a free agent, how can you help maximize my chances of making a team?
  • Do you have any connections with NFL Europe, the CFL, or the Arena Football League?
  • Have you ever had a dispute with a client and if so, how was it resolved?

 

 

Statement from the NCAA

The NCAA supports the Uniform Athlete Agents Act (UAAA) and its adoption in every state. There can be significant damage resulting from the impermissible and oftentimes illegal practices of some athlete agents. Violations of NCAA agent legislation impact the eligibility of student-athletes for further participation in NCAA competition. Violations also may result in harsh penalties on the team and the university (including the imposition of NCAA sanctions that have resulted in the repayment of monies received from NCAA championship competition, forfeiture of contests and other penalties). The UAAA is an important tool in regulating the activities of athlete agents and protecting NCAA student-athletes and member institutions.

The NCAA also supports the Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act (SPARTA) as another viable tool, that can be used to combat the improper and illegal conduct of some athlete agents. A violation of this act is deemed an unfair or deceptive act or practice prescribed under section 18(a)(1)(B) of the Federal Trade Commission Act. Under SPARTA, a state Attorney General or a college and university can bring a civil cause of action to recover any damages caused by a prohibited activity. SPARTA serves as a vital federal backstop in all states that have yet to adopt the UAAA and contains a “Sense of Congress” section which urges states to enact the UAAA and its important athlete agent registration requirements.

Agent Information for Student-Athletes

Uniform Athlete Agents Act (UAAA)

Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act (SPARTA)

Pre-Enrollment


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University of Notre Dame

Department of Athletics

JumpForward

Thursday, November 4, 2010

 
The NCAA salutes the more than 400,000 student-athletes participating in 23 sports at more than 1,000 member institutions. NCAA.org