An NCAA panel has proposed broadening the definition of agents in a move aimed at closing the loophole that allowed Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton to keep playing despite his father's pay-for-play scheme -- and puzzled many across college athletics.
The Division I Amateurism Cabinet is sponsoring legislation that would include family members and other third parties who shop an athlete's services to schools for financial gain, the NCAA announced Tuesday on its website.
The NCAA determined that Cecil Newton, Cam's father, sought money from Mississippi State when Cam Newton was being recruited out of junior college. The quarterback signed with Auburn and was deemed eligible after a one-day suspension when the NCAA's reinstatement staff found he didn't know about the pay-for-play scheme. He was cleared to play in the SEC and national championship games.
Auburn went on to win both titles and Newton wound up as the No. 1 overall NFL draft pick by the Carolina Panthers.
The Division I Leadership Council will review the new proposal at its meeting on Aug. 2.
If passed, the legislation would cover people marketing athletes to colleges, not just professional teams, for profit.
According to the news release, the panel's proposal would define as agents anyone who represents or attempts to represent a current athlete or prospect in marketing them for financial gain, or seeks money or other benefit for steering a prospect to a school or from the athlete's potential earnings during a professional career.
The new definition would include certified contract advisors, financial advisers, marketing representatives, brand managers or anyone employed by or associated with such individuals.
At Big 12 media days, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said he hadn't seen the legislation but doesn't deal with people in those roles.
"We deal with the parents and the coaches, and I've not had much success beyond that, because I'm not much on playing to anybody else," Stoop said. "I believe there's too many good players out there. That type of activity for us, I haven't had much experience in it. It's not the way we've done things."
Added Iowa State's Paul Rhoads: "I wasn't aware of that, and I would want to know more specifically what they said and how they're associating it with it. I know this: They are aggressively looking at a lot of things to -- I don't want to say to clean up the game -- but to keep the game clean. And I think it's the right thing to do."
Nebraska NCAA faculty representative Josephine Potuto said the new regulations would make others subject to the same rules that apply to someone currently designated as an agent.
"It's broader than Cam Newton," said Potuto, a former chair of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions. "Cam Newton is one of the reasons for it but it's broader than that because there are other situations in which third parties are interceding with regard to prospects or student-athletes. If you're a booster, then you're covered by NCAA legislation with regard to contact with prospects or giving prospects money or giving extra benefits to athletes. If you're defined as an agent, you're covered by NCAA legislation. But there is a whole category of people who do not have an association with a particular institution but are involved with prospects or student-athletes."
Mike Rogers, chair of the Amateurism Cabinet, said the NCAA's current agent regulations aren't inclusive enough and the new rules would stop "an industry of individuals" out for profit from working around the rules .
"Historically, contract advisers recruited student-athletes individually and late in their careers when they were transitioning from collegiate sports to the professional ranks," said Rogers, who is Baylor's faculty athletic representative. "Over the years, though, as pro salaries have risen and the notoriety of elite student-athletes has increased with scouting and media exposure, the interest of outside third parties has become greater than ever.
"Although many governing bodies have attempted to impose regulations on these individuals and their activities, the competitive nature of the industry has resulted in finding ways to skirt the rules. These third parties operate free of any governing body's jurisdiction, and historically they do not trigger the NCAA definition of an agent. For the NCAA to regulate these individuals, the cabinet believes the definition of an agent must be expanded," he said.
The NCAA enforcement staff has said the profit for representing an athlete "would have to be significant enough to warrant their attention," the release said.