Why You Should Become A College Scout Instead Of A Sports Agent
For all personnel think being a Sports Agent is the best route for you, here are some interesting background information about the industry of Sports Agents.
According to Ruxin (2010) and Shropshire & Davis (2008), sports agents started to emerge back in 1920 when Red Grange used Charles C. Cash and Cary Pyle in 1925 with the Chicago Bears.
This really started the sports agent, however, it was not until 1985 until the National Football Players Association (NFLPA) really pushed to make it a ruling that made it customary for athletes to have an agent represent them during contracts (Ruxin, 2010 and Shropshire et al., 2008).
During a 60-year period from the time when an agent was present to when they finally became the norm, many owners unenthusiastically did not want to deal with agents or athletes that had representation.
Prime example occurred, when Jim Ringo a center with the Green Bay Packers from 1953 to 1963.
During, Ringo’s 1963 season, he and his agent went to negotiate a new contract deal with legendary coach Vince Lombardi (Shropshire et al., 2008, p. 12).
Coach Lombardi stepped out of the office made a call and stepped back in the negotiation room and said he is talking to the wrong team, that Jim was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles (Shropshire et al., 2008, p. 12).
Professional teams and owners felt agents were out to make a fast buck and for teams to give into agents, they felt they would only be caving into the societal change and set a precedent (Ruxin, 2010). Sports agents have at times give the industry a bad reputation, but that is only a select few, with some violating the rules and regulations that are set forth by the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), players associations, and state and federal laws (Ruxin, 2010 and Shropshire et al., 2008).
Now each league has a different set of CBA and player association rules, however for the most part each sports agent must abide by the state and federal laws for many rules, which tend reasoning for need to have an agent with some form of law background.
The rules constantly change and even lawyers do not keep up with all the regulations, but in order to stay current as an agent they must abide by the CBA, have negotiation skills for most major sports, meet many standards like background checks and pass written exams.
If agents fail to abide by the rules, they arraigned in court, possibly face prison time, debarred and stripped of their right to represent athletes for a specified period as like the example of William “Tank” Black (Ruxin, 2010 and Shropshire et al., 2008).
Although, these fears of jail time and financial loss do not hold agents back, there are still many doing unethical work and jeopardizing the careers and lively hoods of collegiate athletes, the athletes eligibility with accepting funds or gifts from agents during their stint in college (Ruxin, 2010 and Shropshire et al., 2008).
This also hurts the schools, because the schools will lose their championship status, scholarships for future athletes, and more if the NCAA imposes major penalties for the misconduct of the athlete and agent relationship (Ruxin, 2010 and Shropshire et al., 2008).
Agents, are to help get the athlete to the next level, they work for the athlete like a lawyer would and just receive a commission between 3-5% (Ruxin, 2010 and Shropshire et al., 2008).
However, if the athlete signs with an agent that has a conglomerate group that houses many aspects like financial asset management, entertainment services, endorsement services, athletic training, investment opportunities, pre-draft and post sport services, and more, then the commission rates will reach in the range of 30 to 40% of the athletes contract (Ruxin, 2010 and Shropshire et al., 2008).
Agents to some are like a babysitter and others are like an employment service, however the main goal is to guide the athlete and work for the athlete to meet the athletes needs (Ruxin, 2010 and Shropshire et al., 2008).
Each contract with the agent could be set up differently, but for the most part Major League Player Associations (MLPA) and the NFLPA set up a method for the athlete to be able to manage or represent their self (Ruxin, 2010 and Shropshire et al., 2008).
Currently, with the flux of agents, there seems to be a market flooded with agents compared to athletes. In some sports like NHL or NBA, the ratio is 1:1, whereas the NFL the number of certified agents supersedes the number of athletes, and with many athletes in the football going to the full-service companies, it is harder for an agent to stay certified (Ruxin, 2010 and Shropshire et al., 2008).
Therefore, most agents have a second job or leave the field altogether (Ruxin, 2010 and Shropshire et al., 2008). Although, the emergence of may leagues like euro and overseas leagues or other leagues like Arena Football League (AFL), and the Canadian Football League (CFL) help keep agents with athletes. Additionally, the Legends Football League (LFL) for female football helps with other separate and smaller football leagues.
Those leagues include the Grid-Iron Developmental League (GDFL), the Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL), Fall Experimental Football League (FXFL), and other semi-pro or minor sporting leagues that help agents stay in the business, however the problem that those athletes are not going to bring the top dollar as a regular drafted player would.
The business of being an agent is brutal, but possible, just like any other job out in the world.
If you have the passion, you will succeed, however, having a monetary backing helps start your start up, because becoming an agent is not cheap.
For example, to become a NFL Certified Contract Agent you must pay a fee of $2.5K non-refundable to the NFLPA with an application for approval to test between January and February each year.
You must meet specific criteria to even be considered for the test that will be held in Washington, DC in July every year. The test is only 60 questions open book, three hour proctored test held at the last day of the Washington, DC two-day seminar (NFLPA, 2015).
Which the test focuses on the CBA, the Salary Cap, Player Benefits, NFLPA Regulations Governing Contract Advisors, Substances of Abuse/Steroid Policies and other issues relevant to player representation (NFLPA, 2015). Afterwards, if you pass the exam, you will be notified eight weeks later and you are authorized to represent the athletes.
If you fail the test, you have to attend one refresher seminar and resubmit your application, cost will be waived the second time, but you will need to go back to Washington, DC and repeat the two-day seminar with the test (NFLPA, 2015).
You only get two chances to pass the test, if you do not pass the second time, you will not be allowed to take the test for five years (NFLPA, 2015).
However, if you pass then you are golden, but you must pay a fee annually to the NFLPA, for less than 10 players you pay $1500, more than 10 you pay $2200 per year (NFLPA, 2011 and NFLPA, 2015). Another caveat, you must stay current with an active player for three years or else you repeat the process (NFLPA, 2011 and NFLPA, 2015).
That future is a future of honesty and integrity or one that leads you into a Tank Black or those like him where you find yourself dishonest and in jail. I always say that honest pays, knowing how to scout, and knowing how to negotiate a CBA will make you a good agent.
I done billon dollar CBA negotiations in the military, but the world of being a Sports Agent is a different world.
Because if you look the recent HBO show like Ballers, where you might find yourself making a decision taking a chance and giving a player $300K to maintain his lifestyle just to sign him or stay the straight arrow life and hope to land clients that will admire, trust, sign with you and be top paying free agents.
There are alternatives out there for you to enter the sport and make money comparable to a Sports Agent.
That industry is being a College Recruiting Scout for high school athletes. This opportunity allows you the chance to break into the sport, make income, make a difference, and get scholarships for high school athletes.
As a College Recruiting Scout, you work at your pace, are paid for the athletes you bring in, and you do not need to have degree with several years of negotiation skills. Additionally, a College Recruiting Scout helps athletes achieve a goal of getting into college through scholarships.
The career is rewarding with the percentage of athletes that go to college being higher than the typical 1% that would be drafted into pro sports. Therefore, you have more opportunities with less risk.
Now there are many organizations doing the same, but the top companies are NCSA out of Chicago, NSR out of Delaware, and others, however new company established in January 2015 is offering a great program for their College Recruiting Scouts called Woods Recruiting.
The start-up fee with Woods Recruiting is $2.5K, but that includes training, company shirt, laptop, and a carry case.
You will be assigned a location and you will be the direct access to all the athletes in the region. You will be paid a commission fee, that will be around $500 per athlete, but if you get four to eight athletes per month, you will make a salary from $50K to $80K per year.
The last, additional factor, there are no annual fees and you will be insured.
You will be taught about how to recruit, what to ask, how to scout, and not violate any state and federal laws. All contacts will be monitored, therefore, your liability is minimum compared to being a Sports Agent or Agent Advisor.
NFLPA. (2011). Collective bargaining agreement. Retrieved from https://www.nflpa.com.
NFLPA. (2015). How to become an agent. Retrieved from https://www.nflpa.com.
Ruxin, R. H. (2010). An athlete’s guide to agents. (5th ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Shropshire, K. L. and Davis, T. (2008). The business of sports agents. (2nd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.