According to Luchs, "agents have been giving kids money for decades," but only recently has there been a price to pay. As you can imagine, there are a lot of questions on how to deal with this problem. Who gets the blame and the penalties? Who monitors the student-athletes? The list goes on. After all, it’s a large subject to tackle.
At least some responsibility, if not most, has to lie at the university level with presidents and athletic directors. North Carolina State AD Debbie Yow, who has been an outspoken activist on the agent problem, believes there’s education already in place to warn student-athletes about the dangers of illegally dealing with agents.
"There’s education left and right. There’s abundant information. It’s not a matter of education, it’s a matter of temptation," Yow told CFT. "It takes tremendous character to say ‘no’ to an agent and go to the university compliance office."
But responsibility is a two-way street.
"You need to be ready to follow through," explains Yow. "It’s the responsibility of the administration to look and see who’s getting into games for free."
First – how awesome is it that we have an Athletics Director that is considered a national leader on a major issue and gets the call from NBC Sports for comment? This ain’t local radio or some local reporter from the local newspaper needing to fill space and knowing that only Lee Fowler is dumb enough to open his mouth on a topic…this is NBC Sports calling about the biggest story in all of college sports right now.
Second – even though we can safely assume Yow was not intentionally attacking Dick Baddour and the folks at North Carolina, how can one not see the slap across the face caused by calling out administrators for their responsibilities? I think back to the appearance of former NC State AD, Lee Fowler on local radio during the Jimmy V golf tournament a few weeks ago and chuckle. Fowler’s comments were those of someone who could only sit back and let things happen; they were exactly what you would expect of someone who didn’t have the time, energy or commitment to take on the tough challenges that come with true leadership – he felt sorry for his boy Dickie and could totally understand how tough a job it is corral kids these days. Debbie Yow is different.
Third – as it relates to this topic of agents – I couldn’t agree more with the esteemed Dr. Yow. I am absolutely sick and tired of watching these ‘poor athletes’ get consistently positioned as some kind of victim. I completely recognize and accept that turning down ‘free money’ is not an easy decision for anyone; especially young people that often come from disadvantaged backgrounds. I also recognize that life is tough and doing the right thing by making the right decisions aren’t always easy. Almost all schools are doing their jobs of educating the kids and arming them with the knowledge of what is right and wrong. As we see from the developments at Carolina, too few schools are walking their own walk and peeling back the onion to proactively monitor what is going on in their programs. But, sooner or later, the kids have to be held accountable for CHOOSING to exercise their free will and making decisions that they KNOW are wrong.
Ultimately, according to Yow, there are two scenarios in which student-athletes get involved with agents: they give in to temptation, or they receive benefits without knowing it’s an agent or a runner.
As far as the first scenario, the responsibility must lie with the university to educate the student-athlete about the dangers of dealing with agents, as well as with the student-athletes themselves to decline the benefits. If a student-athlete is "duped" into a fancy dinner or a concert, knowing who to talk to and how to handle the situation can go a long way between reporting an incident and getting ruled permanently ineligible.
As we’ve seen in the past six months, student-athletes and their respective universities are beginning to find that out the hard way.