Bob Stoops also concerned about unscrupulous agents
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Writer
Thursday, July 22, 2010
7/22/10 at 5:14 PM
Just like the coaches speaking out at Southeastern Conference media days this week in Alabama, Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops has significant concerns about professional agents and their representatives infesting the OU campus.
“It’s all over the country,” Stoops told the Tulsa World in a telephone interview Thursday. “It’s been happening and it continues to get worse.”
Stoops echoed the sentiments of his colleague at Alabama, Nick Saban, who said on Wednesday the current system needs reevaluating. Saban said the same agent who got one of his players in trouble two years ago was still lurking — still apparently offering cash to players — because the agent was never penalized.
“I agree with Nick wholeheartedly,” Stoops said. “I mean, something has to start happening to these people, agents and the people representing them, and the players. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time to want to penalize the schools. We don’t want it happening. We do all we can to prevent it and educate and all. But if an individual or couple individuals together collaborate, how are you to prevent that? The penalties have to happen to those involved. And they need to be strong ones, otherwise it isn’t going to stop.”
Stoops also endorsed Saban’s stance on cutting off the NFL’s access to players and player information for scouting purposes. Saban said if the NFL or the NFL Players’ Association (its labor union) didn’t step in to police unscrupulous agents and their representatives, he would consider cutting off the league’s scouting avenues. Stoops agreed.
“He makes a good point,” Stoops said, “in that we bend over backwards to allow them to evaluate, come in, use our tape, watch our practices, to see and watch our players. They, on the other hand, need to help us get rid of this problem. For obvious reasons. They’re the only ones that can stop it — by putting in penalties to not allow these agents to represent their players that are doing it the wrong way, and to have stiffer penalties.”
South Carolina, Alabama, Florida and Georgia of the SEC and North Carolina of the Atlantic Coast Conference are under investigation by the NCAA, most under suspicion of players’ involvement in a party hosted by professional sports agents in Miami. Currently, at least five players reportedly are being investigated, and it could be far more wide-reaching than that.
A college athlete who aligns himself with an agent by signing a contract or accepting cash or other gifts is immediately ineligible for NCAA competition. Sometimes the agent will employ a “runner.” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said on a radio program Wednesday morning that one runner under investigation had portrayed himself to a college player as a representative of the players union.
Stoops said OU players are educated about such perils on “multiple occasions.”
“We all preach two things,” Stoops said. “Understand the rules; you’ve got to respect and have enough faith or enough want-to for your team, for your university, for your other players to do the things to stay eligible and do it the proper way. And have patience that, when it’s the proper time, those opportunities and those things will come to you when they’re supposed to.”