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Attorney General Cordray Puts Sports Agents on Notice in Ohio

"I am prepared to take all actions necessary to protect the interests of Ohio's institutions of higher education."
(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — In a letter sent today to Ohio's approximately 90 registered sports agents and agencies, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray warned that his office would take a dim view of any misconduct that might put Ohio's college athletes and programs in the crosshairs of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

"I am troubled by the way students and schools are at times being forced to pay the price for sleazy behavior by agents," Cordray said. "If misconduct by athletic programs or college athletes is proven, they should be punished – no question about it. But if the system fails to hold accountable the sports agent who stands to profit – sometimes enormously – by manipulative actions toward others, that is clearly wrong. Whenever you see an imbalance of experience, knowledge or money – giving one person power over another, particularly when a young person is involved – that is the kind of exploitation we can and will address through all the legal authority my office wields under Ohio law. I will not stand for misconduct by sports agents that harms our colleges or our student athletes."

Chapter 4771 of the Ohio Revised Code authorizes the Attorney General to recover damages on behalf of colleges and universities that have been harmed by agent misconduct. Criminal prosecutions are also authorized under the statute in appropriate cases.

As Attorney General, Cordray is the legal representative of all state colleges and universities in Ohio, including 12 NCAA member institutions. "I am aware that some of my clients are concerned about recent developments in this area, and I am prepared to take all actions necessary to protect the interests of Ohio's institutions of higher education," Cordray added.

"In college athletics, many of the agents dealing with student athletes have the best of intentions in mind for the participants and the universities they represent," said University of Cincinnati Director of Athletics Mike Thomas. "As evidenced by recent activities, there have been some agents who have not followed the NCAA rules appropriately. It is a problem that is attacking the foundation of amateurism and college sports. We applaud the Ohio Attorney General's efforts to curtail this sort of behavior and maintain the integrity of sport."

"Agent violations threaten the foundation and integrity of the NCAA and the competitive equity we strive for in intercollegiate athletics," said Doug Archie, Ohio State associate athletics director for compliance. "Many agents comply with Ohio State Athletics regulations, NCAA rules and Ohio law. Others operate outside the established parameters. Student athletes become embroiled in situations that threaten their eligibility through cash gifts and other impermissible benefits. We appreciate the support of the Ohio Attorney General in our efforts to preserve the integrity of intercollegiate athletics and Ohio law."

Cordray's letter, issued today to all sports agents registered in Ohio, was also delivered to the Ohio Athletic Commission and to all athletic directors at Ohio NCAA member institutions.

The public Ohio universities that are NCAA members are the University of Akron, University of Cincinnati, University of Toledo, The Ohio State University, Bowling Green State University, Cleveland State University, Central State University, Kent State University, Miami University, Ohio University, Wright State University and Youngstown State University.

To read the letter sent to agents, visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/SportsAgentLetter.