The University of Miami has issued new policy guidelines directed at football agents in an attempt to limit their contact with Hurricanes football players in the wake of the Nevin Shapiro scandal.
Forbes.com reported Monday that UM sent an email earlier this month to agents outlining the new policy, which bars student athletes, their parents, or representatives from contacting "anyone who serves as an agent, runner, financial planner, sports marketing representative, sports public relations firm, brand manager, and employees of any of those described." Players are also prohibited from attending NFL draft parties or other events where agents will be in attendance.
Athletes can ask for special permission to speak to an agent, but the athletic department would coordinate and attend any meeting under that circumstance. Penalties for players or parents who break the new rules range from suspensions to removal from the team, according to Forbes.
Miami-based agent Drew Rosenhaus told Forbes the new guidelines are "very strict," but sensible considering Miami's efforts to clean up its image while the NCAA investigates the Shapiro affair.
After news broke that Shapiro gave improper benefits to dozens of Canes in the past decade, UM has been scrambling to cover its tracks and prevent a future Shapiro from tarnishing the program.
The new rules are likely an attempt to display to the NCAA that UM is taking direct action to clean house. Until the NCAA completes its Shapiro investigation and final sanctions are handed down, UM will try to do anything it can to convince the NCAA to go easy on its athletic department.
But the new policy could bring with it some secondary effects that UM might not like. Such restrictive rules regarding agents might convince high school prospects with NFL dreams to attend other schools, where the rules are not so strict. Football coaches will say anything to convince a recruit to sign a letter of intent, and it is not far-fetched to suggest Miami's rivals will tell high schoolers that UM is trying to make it more difficult to make the pros.
Rosenhaus highlighted another unintended consequence. "My only fear would be that the University of Miami is going to isolate the players from the good agents," he said. "Then, all you have are the bad agents doing the communicating."
Then there is the fact that short of confiscating all smartphones and laptops from their players, it is nigh impossible to regulate all communication. UM may look like it is taking a stand against the influence of agents in "amateur" athletics, but with so many avenues of communication available to players and agents, this new policy might be nothing more than a smokescreen.