Proposed Amendments to the Uniform Athlete Agents Act Attract Attention in Chicago

by Rich Cassidy on October 29, 2013

Three Uniform Law Commission drafting committees met last weekend in Chicago. Each is at the initial stage of the drafting process, and the shape of these projects is just beginning to emerge.

Today, I’ll write about what is perhaps the most advanced — and certainly the most high profile — of these three projects: the work of the Drafting Committee on Amendments to the Uniform Athlete Agents Act. The was originally promulgated by the ULC in 2000 in response to the concerns of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and others, that student athletes and the colleges and universities that they attend were being victimized by the practices of some unscrupulous sports agents.

Immense amounts of money are at stake for student athletes who have potential to become professionals. And that means the market of those who seek to represent those athletes is lucrative and extremely competitive. Recruitment of student athletes while they are still enrolled in school causes substantial eligibility problems for the recruited athlete, and often leads to severe economic sanctions and scholarship losses for the school.

The 2000 UAAA establishes a regulatory scheme that normally prohibits individuals from acting as athlete agents without registering with the state, requires the agent make disclosures about his or her background, keep certain records, prohibits agents from making false statements or making payment to athletes in recruiting, and requires the agent and the athlete to notify the student’s educational institution within 72 hours of signing a representation agreement. Student athletes are afforded 14 days after signing to cancel an agency contract.

The 2000 UAAA has been very successful, having been adopted as the law in 43 states and territories.

But the high monetary stakes have kept the pressure on students, schools, and others as attempts to evade the law and scandals like the Cam Newton case continue to create sports news.

The high profile nature of the current project was reflected by attendance at the drafting committee meeting. Besides committee members and American Bar Association liaisons, some 40 observers were present including representatives of Secretaries of State, State Attorney Generals, District Attorneys, the National Football League, the NLF Players Association, the NCAA, the National Association of Sports Agents and Athlete Representatives, and a number of colleges and universities and college sports leagues.

The drafting committee, Chaired by Idaho Commissioner Dale Higer, is charged with drafting amendments to the existing UAAA to expand the scope of the law and improve its effectiveness. Proposals that the committee considered in Chicago included expanding the definition of student athletes to specifically cover students in secondary and elementary schools, and perhaps even athletes who are not students, creating a national registry of athlete agents, expanding the scope of those required to register, reconsidering whether to require that agents post a surety bond, requiring notification of schools before agents contact student-athletes and improving the enforcement provisions of the statute.

The current act includes some criminal penalties for its violation, but some prosecutors have proven reluctant to devote scarce criminal justice resources to these problems. My own contribution to the drafting process was to suggest that the federal false claims act might provide useful model for joint public/private enforcement.

The drafting project is in its early stages, but a copy of the draft can be viewed through the AUAAA page of the ULC website.

The Committee Chair, and its Reporter, Alabama Commissioner Jerry Bassett, are always pleased to receive comments and suggestions.

The views expressed herein are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Uniform Law Commission.

Rich

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