By Garrick A. Farria
There has been a recent trend over the past decade or so that finds sports agents of all stripes being asked, no expected, to furnish goods and services all in the name of assisting their clients with upcoming draft position and eventual selection by prospective teams.
From everything I have heard and read, this was not particularly the case a few years back and only came in to vogue recently. One line of thought suggests that an enterprising group of NFL agents came up with the idea that if they offered clients “free stuff” on the front end, then the agents would get their fees and expenses recouped on the back end. As the NFL players went, it seems like everyone else fell right in line.
Fast forward to the 2017 draft season. I am sure that there are hundreds of agents and players who are now finding themselves in this situation as this article goes to print. Every party involved with getting a player signed to a team has vested interests. And several cottage industries have sprung up around “Pre-Draft” preparation.
It would probably be in a player’s best interest to avoid the pitfalls of “borrowing” large sums of money from his agent to cover things like housing, meal preparation, training, transportation, living expenses, and maintenance payments to family members or third parties.
These fees should not be considered “free money”. They almost always have to be paid back as a part of an agent’s “expenses” and are usually counted separately from any earned commissions. And they should certainly not be used to furnish a lavish lifestyle prematurely (there will be plenty of times for Rolex watches and fancy cars later on down the road).
If a player absolutely has to have an agent “pitch in” and cover certain fees, he should make it a point for the agent to work out deals with any vendor’s directly instead of sitting back and letting the agent “pay for everything” and get hit with a bill later. Agents, in most cases, only get paid when the player gets paid. If things don’t work out with a given agent, or if a player’s draft expectations don’t quite match up with draft day reality, then both the player and the agent are faced with an unnecessary and avoidable situation.
And at some point, an agent may have to sue the player in order to recover fees and expenses. And while that may be an extreme situation, how would it feel for a player to go through all the hard work, commitment, dedication, and adjustment to make on to a professional team only to have his first couple of paychecks go straight to an agent just to pay off pre-draft loans. That’s probably not a good feeling.
Players need to be smart about their money from day one. One of the smartest things any pro player can do is to not borrow money from their agent unless they absolutely have to and only for things that they absolutely need.
Garrick A. Farria, Esq. is a sports and entertainment attorney at his firm based in Fort Worth, TX and a certified FIBA Agent working with professional basketball players through Aspire Sports Management, a global company. You can follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/FarriaLawGroup or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FarriaLawGroup/