Texas lawmakers are putting teeth into new laws focused on street agents and runners, making violations a potential felony offense.
HERE IS SUB-ZERO. NOW. PLAIN ZERO!
Needless to say, these measures are welcome, but until we see the law applied, it's not clear to me how far-reaching its impact will be. It seems to only address the most obvious form of tampering, in which, unbidden and unwelcome, runners or agents contact college athletes and offer them lucre. It then depends on the athlete turning them in or a paper trail triggered by arrests, indiscretion, or tattletales.
What about when the approach is welcomed? The notion of the innocent exploited athlete is a naive one. Many of these guys and their families are looking to play the game. And, in the case of Reggie Bush, some are more cynical bastards than the agents.
What about when agents use members of the family as their runner?
Or, in the case of North Carolina, use members of the coaching staff like recruiting coordinator John Blake?
Cam Newton isn't turning in Cecil. And no player is turning in his coach.
So discovery to allow enforcement depends largely on the athlete's sense of propriety or an indiscreet paper trail (car lease in runner/agent name, paid plane tickets to South Beach, hotel, use of credit card etc). This looks like a useful tool for rooting out agents and runners who aren't smart enough to properly gauge the athlete or family that they approach. But so long as there are willing families and athletes, there will be runners.
This is a tiger-pit for idiot agents.
More crucially, though the enforcement language is centered on the college athlete-turned-pro space, it seems some of this may be potentially enforceable on Texas' homegrown high school street agents who have made a cottage industry of selling camp visits to
Auburn and Oregon schools we can't name you don't usually see Texas athletes attending, selling signatures, and doing anything they can to insert themselves into elite players' decision making...
...or their single mothers.
However, all of the caveats of college-to-pro enforcement applies to high school-to-college: prosecution depends upon the agent's blundering stupidity and the player/family's openness to playing the game.
I'm counting on the former, and hoping for the best on the latter.