|The Agent’s Role
In professional sports, athletes can sometimes be regarded as personal assistants to their athletes—aiding them in a bevy of aspects, from money management to renting a home and providing emotional support in the middle of the night.
Will agents be as involved in the lives of student-athletes? Florida’s bill stated that universities could not prevent a student-athlete “from obtaining professional representation by an athlete agent or attorney engaged for the purpose of securing compensation for the use of her or his name, image, or likeness”. That language seems to suggest that athletes are to be hired by student-athletes only to help the athletes find and sign endorsement contracts, but that is arguable.
Rubio’s bill says the student-athlete can earn money from NIL and “subject to the requirements under section 3 of [SPARTA], obtain professional representation with respect to matters described in subparagraph (A).” Subparagraph A referenced the student-athletes’ right to earn money from their NIL, so that language is similar to Florida’s language.
Other regulations, whether those be federal or state, could also affect this issue of how involved athletes will be with student-athletes.
Endorsements’ Similarity To Professional Sports
Student-athletes’ endorsement contracts, and their similarity to professional sports endorsement contracts, will once again depend on the legislation ultimately agreed upon. Most likely, any legislation ultimately passed will have some type of limitation distinguishing it from professional endorsements. Agents will have to tread more carefully with student-athlete endorsement contracts.
For example, in Florida, the bill states that the student-athlete’s compensation “may only be provided by a third party unaffiliated with the intercollegiate athlete’s postsecondary educational institution.” Student-athletes also cannot enter into an endorsement deal that would conflict with his/her team contract with the university, and all contracts must be disclosed to the university. Under the Florida law, agents would need to ensure endorsement contracts are not signed with boosters, and the agent must make sure to disclose all contracts to the university.
Federally, proposals have taken different stances on whether endorsements should be limited to certain industries/products. For example, Gonzalez and Cleaver’s bill stated student-athletes could not enter into endorsements that could harm the athlete’s reputation (such as alcohol or tobacco). Meanwhile, Sen. Chris Murphy and Rep. Lori Trahan introduced a bill, the only of its kind, which does not give the NCAA or any other body the ability to regulate the products athletes endorse.
Ultimately, agents may have to maneuver different pitfalls when finding and negotiating endorsement contracts. Student-athletes could be limited to endorsements that do not conflict with their university contract, endorsements not from any boosters or anyone connected with the university, endorsements that don’t injure their reputation, and (potentially) endorsements that don’t conflict with their school’s sponsors. This possible list of differences serves as a distinguisher from an agent’s search for endorsements for his/her professional athletes.