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Arn Tellem on the NCAA Ban on Advisors

2009 December 16
by Phil Miller

Arn Tellem has an interesting piece in the Huffington Post on the NCAA’s ban on player advisors (agents). Here are the first two paragraphs:

Of all the injustices heaped on college athletes, the most draconian may be the NCAA’s ban on the use of attorneys during contract talks with professional teams. Athletes and their parents are allowed to get advice about proposed contracts only if their advisors don’t represent them openly in negotiations. Athletes and their advisors can discuss the merits of a deal, but to maintain eligibility at NCAA schools, the advisors may not act as a go-between or be present during bargaining sessions or have any direct contact with the team on the athlete’s behalf.

The rule is intended to keep agents away from amateur athletes. By rendering agents powerless, it effectively turns them into potted plants. But if you’re hammering out a deal with someone, isn’t it your prerogative to get professional advice? Absolutely, wrote an Ohio judge in a 2008 judgment against the NCAA. He likened the rule to “a patient hiring a doctor, but the doctor is told by the hospital board and the insurance company that the doctor cannot be present when the patient meets with a surgeon because the conference may improve his patient’s decision-making power.”

Arn Tellem is a sports agent and surely has a dog in the fight with the NCAA on this matter, but he makes some excellent points regarding the rights of athletes negotiating with pro teams. It’s a bit like going to gun fight with a knife handle but no blade.

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