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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee legislature has passed a bill intended to bring much-needed order to sports agents’ relationships with college athletes.

The bill now goes to Gov. Don Sundquist.

The legislation requires prospective sports agents to register with the state and provides for civil relief if an agent’s or athlete’s actions result in financial loss to the university or suspension of competition due to NCAA rules violations.

“The most important impact of this legislation will be the ability of our coaches and athletes to know who is authorized to operate legally as a sports agent in Tennessee,” said University of Tennessee-Knoxville men’s athletics director Doug Dickey.

“We want to say to sports agents, ‘If you want to register and obey the rules, we will try to help you manage your affairs with our athletes. If you tamper with our athletes improperly, there will be very serious consequences.”‘

Dickey said he sees a parallel between provisions of the bill and the NCAA process colleges are required to use in recruiting high school athletes.

“There is an organized process in high school recruiting that is better than the totally disorganized hit-when-you-want-to-hit process of the current agent-player relationship in professional sports,” he said. “Eighty to 90 percent of the agents are fine. But when you are dealing with 10 to 20 percent who want to operate in the shadows, there is a serious problem for athletes and the university.”

Philip Fulmer, UT head football coach, and basketball coach Kevin O’Neill said they endorse the state legislation.

Under the legislation, agents and their representatives would pay an annual $250 permit fee and post a $15,000 bond with the secretary of state. Licensed attorneys representing athletes are defined in the bill as agents.

Tennessee colleges and universities can seek financial compensation from the agent or athlete if they suffer:

* Loss of revenue from media coverage of a game or match.

* Loss of ticket sales.

* Loss of the right to grant an athletic scholarship.

* Loss of the right to recruit athletes.

* Prohibition of post-season competition.

* Forfeit of a game or contest.

* Loss of proceeds from revenue-sharing agreements.

* Any adverse financial impact.

Agents could be charged with a felony if they offer, give or loan anything of value to a college athlete or if they enter into a contract with an athlete without giving prior notices required by the bill.

Provisions of the law would apply to all agents regardless of whether they live in Tennessee.

Contact: Doug Dickey (423-974-1224)