WMU News

WMU testimony supports sports agent legislation

Feb. 26, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- An athletic department official from WMU traveled to the state capital of Lansing today, Feb. 26, to support legislation to control the activities of professional sports agents.

Jeffrey A. Stone, associate athletic director for compliance and academic services testified before the Commerce Committee of the Michigan House of Representatives. Stone supported passage of HB 4857, also known as the "Athlete Agents Licensure Act" and the "Uniform Athlete Agent Act." Paul DeVries, the WMU athletic department's director of compliance, accompanied Stone to the hearing.

Says Stone, "The Uniform Athlete Agent Act is designed to establish similar regulations across all states governing the conduct of sports agents. It mainly provides for registration of agents and establishes penalties for violations.

"The NCAA has encouraged individual states to pass this kind of legislation," says Stone.

Earlier this month, WMU President Elson S. Floyd wrote a letter to members of the state legislature supporting enactment of the athlete agents legislation.

The complete text of Stone's prepared testimony appears below. WMU was the only university represented among those offering testimony at today's hearing. Following testimony, the measure was passed out of committee by a vote of 11-0 to be considered by the full House.

Testimony of Jeffrey A. Stone supporting HB 4857

My name is Jeff Stone, associate athletic director at Western Michigan University, and I appreciate the opportunity to express our strong support for Michigan House Bill 4857, the Uniform Athlete Agent Act. I am joined today by Paul DeVries, director of compliance at Western Michigan University.

As you are aware, professional athletes are highly compensated and utilize the services of professional agents in the negotiation of contracts. While most agents provide services of great value to their clients, there are a number of agents, would-be-agents, and runners who have caused serious problems for college student-athletes and educational institutions by employing illegal practices. By providing gifts, making unrealistic promises, and trying to influence those close to student-athletes, these individuals cause significant problems for intercollegiate athletic programs.

In the state of Michigan, 12 universities sponsor Division I sports. Five of these institutions play Division I-A football, and three of those--Michigan, Michigan State and Western Michigan--also sponsor men's basketball, baseball and ice hockey, sports with considerable professional influence. Thus, this bill has particular significance for those of us working with student-athletes in this state, including staff members at the Division II and Division III levels.

While we make significant campus efforts to educate our student-athletes about agents, this bill establishes clear standards of conduct and a penalty structure that is beneficial to each of the institutions in the state. The detailed information contained in the agent application will be particularly effective in helping us to educate our young student-athletes. Having worked with student-athletes on a daily basis for more than 15 years, I can assure you that the more specific details that we can provide, especially the names of those already represented by a particular agent, the more effective that we can be on the front end of this process.

Please note that we are not only speaking of opportunities in the NFL, NBA, NHL, and Major League Baseball. With tremendous growth occurring in all sports and the numerous minor leagues and international leagues, many of our young men and growing numbers of young women need guidance in evaluating professional opportunities.

While this act won't solve all agent problems, it provides protection for student-athletes and institutions and allows administrators access to consistent documentation. The 72-hour notification guideline will be particularly helpful in minimizing NCAA penalties resulting from the participation by an ineligible student-athlete.

The NCAA and its member institutions across the country support the Uniform Athlete Agent Act. On behalf of our colleagues in the state of Michigan, we ask for your support of this Bill. Thank you.

Media contact: Thom Myers, 269 387-8400, thomas.myers@wmich.edu

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