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NCAA seeks insight from agent who paid players

- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 27, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The NCAA has been asking former agent Josh Luchs for his insights about how to police college sports from rogue agents.

Luchs was decertified by the NFL Players Association last week after telling Sports Illustrated that he improperly paid 30 college players from 1990-96.

NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn confirmed Wednesday night that the governing body had spoken with Luchs. In an e-mail to The Associated Press, Osburn writes that the NCAA has had regular conversations with other people to gain a better understanding of the agent landscape.

Representatives from the NCAA, NFL, NFLPA, American Football Coaches Associations and professional agents are discussing ways to persuade agents and players to follow NCAA rules.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ The NFL Players Association doesn't think rookies should be suspended for contact with agents in college.

The union may get its wish.

Hours after the NFLPA issued a statement opposing suspensions, an NCAA spokeswoman acknowledged Wednesday that punishment was not "currently" under consideration by a panel debating how to dissuade agents from providing improper benefits to college players _ and players from taking the money and running to the NFL.

That doesn't mean it won't be debated.

"Everything is on the table and nothing is off it," said Rick Smith, a Chicago-based agent who serves on the panel. "And we're nowhere close to saying this is our proposal, so the NFLPA coming out with a statement is really premature."

The union, league, NCAA and other entities are discussing ways to halt the problem of agents, and college players, who break the rules. A series of high-profile cases are currently under investigation by the NCAA.

On Monday, the NCAA said the panel would identify areas of "greater collaboration," including enforcement efforts by state officials dealing with sports agent laws. Two days later, the NFLPA made clear where it doesn't want the discussion to go.

"The NFLPA is opposed to any penalty being imposed upon a player in the NFL for conduct relating to the receipt of benefits in violation of NCAA rules while the player was in college," it said. "However, we will continue to discuss with the NCAA and others issues relating to the conduct of agents certified by the NFLPA as they interact with NCAA players."

So where do talks go from here?

It's anybody's guess.

Current NCAA rules prohibit players from accepting gifts and money from agents or signing with them before their college careers end. Any infringement of those rules can jeopardize an athletes' remaining eligibility and put the school in danger of facing additional NCAA sanctions, as was the case with Reggie Bush and Southern Cal's football team.

Smith told The Associated Press that the opening round of talks focused almost entirely on categories that need to be discussed. One of those was post-NCAA enforcement, or penalties that could be imposed after the player turns pro, though Smith emphasized formal proposals have been made and none are expected for at least three months.

The NCAA is treading carefully.

"It should be understood that the development of any post-NCAA penalty will be considered by the NFL and NFLPA and those groups will agree upon what is appropriate," NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn. "What's important is that at the current time all key stakeholders are discussing how best to address the issue."

Contact with agents has been a longtime concern for NCAA officials, dating back at least as far as the late 1980s when Cris Carter was declared ineligible before his senior season after the NCAA determined he had signed with an agent.

Now, with the NCAA mounting a wide-ranging investigation into players at several schools,

Players at defending national champion Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina have all been caught up in the investigation, and six North Carolina players will not be allowed to play this season because of the probe.

Perhaps, Smith said, that is why five national-championship winning coaches _ Mack Brown, Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, Bob Stoops and Jim Tressel _ urged the NCAA to bring all of these groups together.

"I think it's everybody finally putting their hands up and saying enough," Smith said. "They said it's time to stop talking and let's get to work.

Smith thinks the solution has to include stronger sanctions _ suspensions or not.

"I think at the end of the day some people have to have some healthy fear," he said. "Every group that is part of this problem, the certified agent that crosses the line, the uncertified agent like the runners and the unscrupulous student-athlete, there has got to be some fear of ramifications."

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