TOPEKA Some of the state's top college sports administrators and coaches lent support Thursday to a proposed law that would license and regulate sports agents and their contacts with student-athletes.
The bill would empower the secretary of state to register sports agents, rejecting those deemed unfit for the trade in Kansas because of prior unsavory behavior or criminal conduct.
The law also would require contracts offered by agents to student-athletes to contain a disclaimer advising that athletes might lose collegiate sports eligibility if the contract is signed. The measure includes provision for $25,000 penalty per violation of the act.
Seventeen other states already have enacted similar laws, and several other states in the Big 12 Conference are, like Kansas, considering legislation this year, lawmakers were told.
Kansas State University football coach Bill Snyder was among those who testified for the bill.
Snyder said 230 college football players will enter the NFL Draft in April, and those players are being pursued by 800 or 900 sports agents who want to sign them. Some of those agents were unscrupulous, Snyder said.
"It's a very, very competitive field," Snyder said of the sports-agent business. "The quality agents are not soliciting."
Bill supporters told lawmakers they feared shady agents preying on young athletes, many of whom come from low-income backgrounds and are excited by the promise of contracts "for a dollar amount way out of whack for our society," as Snyder put it.
Becky Endicott, associate athletic director at Wichita State University, said cash-strapped young athletes surrounded by affluence often see nothing wrong with accepting pocket money or cars from agents, though the inducements can lead to NCAA sanctions against the athletes and their schools.
Sports officials also said agents are increasingly active in recruitment of increasingly younger athletes.
The bill would give universities standing to sue for damages the agents or student-athletes who violated the act.
Kansas University athletic director Al Bohl attended the hearing, but did not testify. During questioning, he told the panel he also supported the measure.
The proposal is unopposed, though the Kansas Trial Lawyers Assn. asked that some nonsubstantive elements of the bill be amended so that universities be required to pay their own legal fees in actions against agents or athletes.
The measure is Senate Bill 61, currently before the Senate judiciary committee.