College Basketball Indictments: Adidas, Thy Name is Banned Athlete Agent

Adidas Operated as a Player Agent 

In my previous two postings I said that the recent college basketball indictments provide a reasonable foundation for concluding that Adidas has acted as both a Booster and Runner and must, under NCAA bylaws, therefore be banned from campus, by way of an order from the NCAA to the school to ‘dissociate’ from Adidas. The necessary result is that the schools involved will need to sever their contracts and all relations with Adidas. (The same analysis obviously applied to any other apparel company which arranged any similar payoffs to players and others.) These sanctions to which Adidas is subject would be imposed by the NCAA.

 

Emmert5

NCAA Executive Director Emmert

 

But Adidas’ action subject it to a different criminal sanction, according to most state laws, and apart from the federally statutory violations alleged in the pending indictments.

The Uniform Athlete Agent Act

By making the payments alleged in the indictment to a recruit, Adidas functioned as an illegal “athlete agent,” as defined under state Uniform Athlete Agent Acts. These statutes were drafted and passed at the behest of the NCAA. It is the NCAA’s very own ‘pet’ statute, in many ways, since it was the prime mover in getting it adopted in 43 states. So the NCAA’s own description of the statute, and the wrongs it is meant to prevent and/or sanction, as displayed at its website, and entitled “Need For and Benefits of the Uniform Athlete Agents Act,” are a good source — and I will quote extensively from them below:

“Many athlete agents are not readily identified to the student-athlete. These unscrupulous individuals include prospective agents who are willing to use any means necessary to ensnare a student-athlete who has even a slight possibility of a professional career. The significant damage caused by impermissible and illegal inducements to student-athletes requires sensible legislation to provide protections for student-athletes and the institutions they attend. There is a real need to have access to information about the individuals who become involved with our student-athletes and to provide strong criminal, civil and administrative penalties along with the tools to ensure that law enforcement can adequately enforce the act.”

The statute requires that any agent register with the state, providing

“important information, both professional and criminal in nature,” [which will] “enable student-athletes, their parents and family, and university personnel to better evaluate the prospective agent.” [and requires that] “that written notice be provided to institutions when a student-athlete signs an agency contract before their eligibility expires.”

By making the payments described in the indictments a

(even if made through an intermediary “runner”) Adidas operated as an athlete agent — but did not register with the states as an agent.

And, as the NCAA website points out, an agency

“contract must contain a notification to the student-athlete informing them that signing a contract may make the student-athlete ineligible for intercollegiate competition.”

The mere fact that no written contract exists does not excuse Agent Adidas from the statutory duty to give this warning, and it is fair to assume (from the indictments), that Agent Adidas never gave any such warning to Brian Bowen or others. (Bowen, now in limbo and not playing basketball — but enrolled — at Louisville, seems clearly destined to be found ineligible.)

As the NCAA’s website states, the act

“provides for criminal, civil and administrative penalties with enforcement at the state level.”

Adidas, it appears, is wide open to prosecution by one or more states for violation of the UAAA, with potential criminal, civil and administrative penalties in play.

Adidas Liability for Louisville Damages?

But here’s a very interesting kicker, in the NCAA’s own words:

“the act provides institutions with a right of action against the agent or former student-athlete for any damages caused by a violation of this act.”

Let your imagination fly here: Louisville’s damages caused by these events (if the school can avoid any finding of its own participation in the alleged bribes, fraud, and conspiracy — which is a bit of an ‘if’) are staggering. And the statute places responsibility for those damages upon Agent Adidas.

Adidas, Thy Name is Banned Athlete Agent

 

Copyright William Wilson 2017

 

 

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About brewonsouthu

Michigan and Big Ten fan, former lawyer, with interest in college sports and NCAA oversight and decisions, and sports generally.
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