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Zola said he tries to build relationships with the athletes as soon as possible, and for baseball players _ who can be drafted out of high school _ that means contacting them after they commit to BC but even before they arrive on campus. He meets with other athletes as a team or individually to let them know how he can help, his role increasing as they get closer to the real world.

Matt Tennant, a BC center who was drafted by the New Orleans Saints, said Zola helped with background on the potential agents, filtering out the bad ones. (Zola said he only eliminates agents with hard evidence _ a criminal conviction, for example.) “They just do a very thorough job of going through and making sure there’s nothing wrong with the agency,” Tennant said.

Condon said most agents welcome the presence of an experienced, independent monitor like Zola.

“We view him as a positive, because he’s going to ask the right questions,” Condon said. “He’s going to talk about the things that are meaningful as opposed to the fluff that’s going to wind up not making any difference.”

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AP Sports Writers Joedy McCreary, Henry Kurz Jr., Charles Odum, Brett Martel, Mike Marot, Tom Canavan and Dave Ginsburg contributed to this story.