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The Business of Sports Agents

By Kenneth L. Shropshire and Timothy Davis

Publication Year: 2013

The legendary Charles C. "Cash and Carry" Pyle, considered by most to be the first sports agent, negotiated a $3,000-per-game contract for Red Grange to play professional football for the Chicago Bears in 1933. Today, salaries in the tens of millions of dollars are commonplace, and instead of theatrical promoters and impresarios, professionally trained businessmen and lawyers dominate the business. But whereas rules and penalties govern the playing field, there are far fewer restrictions on agents. Incidents of agents' manipulating athletes, ranging from investment scams to outright theft of a player's money, are far too frequent, and there is growing consensus for reform

In The Business of Sports Agents, Kenneth L. Shropshire and Timothy Davis, experts in the fields of sports business and law, examine the history of the sports agent business and the rules and laws developed to regulate the profession. They also consider recommendations for reform, including uniform laws that would apply to all agents, redefining amateurism in college sports, and stiffening requirements for licensing agents. This revised and expanded second edition brings the volume up-to-date on recent changes in the industry, including:

- the closing of one of the largest agencies
- high-profile personnel moves
- passage of the federal Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act
- the National Football League's aggressive and high-profile efforts to regulate agents

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press


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pp. v-vi

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Preface to the Second Edition

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pp. vii-viii

The Business of Sports Agents seriously examines one of the most intriguing professions to develop as sport has become big business entertainment. The sports agent industry has been glamorized by motion picture, television, and journalistic accounts. Who would not want to be the businessperson behind the all-star athlete? ...

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pp. 1-8

Many variables impact the still-maturing sports agent business. This book focuses on this evolving industry, the issues affecting it, and how to improve and regulate it. In recent years the key issues and problems associated with sports agents have been visible more at the professional than collegiate level. ...

I. Background

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1. Historical and Legal Foundations

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pp. 11-21

The sports agent profession is not a new one. What is relatively new are the high finances and intense competition that pervade the profession. Most attribute the genesis of the athlete agent industry to theatrical promoter, impresario, and showman Charles C. “Cash and Carry” Pyle. ...

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2. The Business

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pp. 22-36

For many people, the life of a sports agent conjures up visions of a Hollywood lifestyle complete with fast cars, fancy clothes, and beautiful women. The motion picture Jerry Maguire and the television series Arli$$ did much to further glamorize the profession. ...

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3. Consolidation: An Evolving Industry

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pp. 37-52

The last decade and a half or so has been marked by an evolution, influenced significantly by consolidation, of the athlete agent industry. In the 1990s, taking steps to create their own full-service sports agent firms, SFX Sports (SFX), Assante Corporation (Assante), and Interpublic Group’s Octagon (Octagon) followed the lead ...

II. Problems

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4. The Basics: Competition for Clients

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pp. 55-71

The nature of “the business” continues to evolve, and a major influence on its evolution is the competition for clients. As the above quotation suggests, competition among agents is fierce and can lead to unethical behavior. ...

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5. Unscrupulous and Criminal: The Problem Agents

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pp. 72-87

Problems associated with unethical agents have clearly seeped into the public consciousness. Newspapers and television news programs, both sports and nonsports oriented, report with regularity on problems that ultimately stem from agents’ intense competition for clients. ...

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6. Conflicts of Interest

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pp. 88-96

Factual scenarios involving financial mismanagement potentially implicate several of the obligations identified in Chapter 1 that agents owe to their principals. These obligations include the duty of an agent to comply with all applicable laws and the agent’s duty to notify the principal of all matters that may affect the principal’s interests.1 ...

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7. Ethics: Attorney Versus Nonattorney Agents

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pp. 97-106

The sports agent industry has evolved such that licensed attorneys comprise a significant percentage of the agents who represent athletes. The intersection of the legal profession and the agent profession is often an uneasy fit. ...

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8. Agent Wars

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pp. 107-116

Sometimes agents breach obligations they owe to their athlete clients. In many instances, however, athletes engage in conduct that runs contrary to the obligations that agency law imposes upon them. Although an athlete, unlike an agent, is not a fiduciary with respect to his or her agent, ...

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9. The Last Amateurs on Earth: Amateurism and Opportunity

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pp. 117-128

Chapters 10 and 11 will explore private and public efforts to address the problems associated with the athlete agent industry. The major impetus behind such efforts, particularly state-enacted agent legislation, is to protect the interests of institutions of higher education that may be jeopardized by student athlete and agent interactions that violate NCAA rules and regulations. ...

III. Solutions

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10. Knights of Columbus Rules? Private Sports Agent Regulations

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pp. 131-143

With the growth of problems in the sports agent industry, many concerned parties have sought regulatory solutions. Historically, the key entities involved in attempting to formulate legislation as the panacea for the problems that afflict the agent industry have been the NCAA, NCAA member institutions, players’ unions, ...

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11. The Laws

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pp. 144-156

In a recruiting pitch to an athlete, Norby Walters said, “The normal sports agent . . . he’s not gonna shake white America. I have been shaking those people for years in that music side of entertainment. Now it’s time to shake ’em hard in the sports side of entertainment.”1 ...

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12. A Uniform Approach: The Uniform Athlete Agents Act

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pp. 157-164

Somewhat anticlimactically, a uniform law regulating sports agents became official in the first year of the new millennium. The full impact of the uniform law is still not yet clear. This chapter describes the process undertaken to develop the Uniform Athlete Agents Act, discusses the basic elements of the final product, ...

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13. Conclusion: The Absence of a Panacea

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pp. 165-172

This book has presented an overview of the background and the current state of the sports agent business along with the legal principles that impact the industry. In addition, it has touched on efforts undertaken by diverse parties to address the problems that confront the business. ...


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pp. 173-202


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pp. 203-214

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pp. 215-216

A number of people were helpful directly and indirectly in researching this and earlier editions of the book. An incomplete list includes Allen Saunderson, Wendi Huntley, Ray Anderson, Stanley King, Craig Fenech, Charles Grantham, Michael Jackson, Edward V. King, Jr., Pam Lester, Ash Narayan, Roger Noll, Jeff Orleans, ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780812209167
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812240849

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: Second Edition