Meyer, Saban Agree to Get Tough on Agents

HOOVER, Ala. -- Less than a week before SEC Media Days started, it lacked the headline story. The NCAA followed by investigating Florida and Alabama because of allegations that players accepted benefits from agents while they still had eligibility. All of a sudden, the main story appeared.

Former Florida offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey was accused of taking money from an agent some time between the SEC Championship Game and the Sugar Bowl. The microscope looked to be squarely on Florida, only for Alabama defensive lineman Marcel Dareus to be investigated for attending a party hosted by an agent.

Pouncey issued a statement Wednesday saying that "it is an absolutely ridiculous claim. I have completely cooperated with the investigation and answered any and all questions put to me."

Maurkice's brother, Mike, said Wednesday at SEC Media Days that his brother did not take any money. Mike also said that he never saw any agents speak to his brother last year.

"I talked to my brother and it's not true," Michael Pouncey said, also adding he isn't concerned about losing any of his own eligibility. "He pretty much cleared that up in the statement today. I feel bad about it because it ruined (our) name by someone who doesn't really know who me and my brother are. Those that know who we are know we're not those kinds of people. We pride ourselves on having a great clean name. It's just hard right now."

Florida head coach Urban Meyer also voiced his support for Maurkice Pouncey's statement.

"I went to Maurkice (after hearing of the allegations 5-6 weeks ago)," Meyer said. "He said that didn't happen. I have not been that concerned. I don't like our pictures going across the ticker and everything else. If something happened, he should be punished severely. If it didn't happen, then that's nonsense. I heard his denial today, and we stand by Maurkice Pouncey."

The NCAA will continue to investigate both situations, but the topic Wednesday became finding a fix.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban had a simple suggestion. If an agent is caught in contact illegally with a player, Saban suggests his license be suspended for a year.

"Whatever we need to do to create some consequences for people who are not doing the right things here, which starts with the agent, in my opinion, who is entrapping and taking advantage of young people at a difficult time in their life," Saban said. "The players are responsible and the players should have consequences if they do it, but the agent should have consequences. Right now, they have none. They have none."

The Alabama head coach calls for going straight to the pocket of the agents. When their license is suspended and money stops coming in, the threat of it alone should decrease the activity of agents in illegal contact with student athletes.

"I would hate for somebody to suspend me and tell me I can't collect fees in my profession for a year," Saban said. "That would do me a lot of good in terms of straightening out whatever I was doing wrong."

Meyer said the issue comes in policing the agents. The agents are kept off campus, but it's not as if they try very hard to see the players there. The agents and their runners target players when they are off campus.

"For a coach to figure out who a runner is at a nightclub at 2:30 in the morning, I've been asleep for four hours," Meyer quipped. "The coaches can't do that. I've tried to. At Florida we have security for one reason, and it's not so much for the fans, it's for people we don't want around our players. I heard a comment about keeping the agents off campus. Arguably one of the most ridiculous statements I've ever heard because they are off campus. They're not on our campus. If they are, they're hiding behind bushes."

Meyer took a clear path to fixing the issues. The laws in place for agents not to contact players illegally are being broken frequently. The simple approach is to start enforcing the laws, instead of turning a blind eye to them. The recent investigations could be the first step to the NCAA policing the events.

"On a student-athlete losing a season of eligibility or games, that's significant. That affects their livelihood, name, reputation and the school's reputation. The other end of that has to be severely punished, as well. I understand there's 36 or 38 states in the country that have a significant penalty out there for a predator that's out there waiting to get involved. Obviously, that has to happen. There's no plea-bargaining or anything. If somebody violates that law, they need to be punished to the extent of the law. Or the NFL, like Coach Saban mentioned, has to get involved and not allow them to be agents."

The other aspect involved is that the recent investigations have put a black eye on all agents. The ones involved with paying players early get a jump on players will to accept the money, but it also creates an unfair advantage for them over the agents who do their job the right way.

"It's not fair to the good agents," Saban said. "There's a lot of good agents out there that don't do this stuff. They're not out there chasing guys and giving them money and breaking rules and flying them all over the country, sending girls after them, all kind of stuff. They're not breaking the rules. It's unfair to them."

Meyer and Saban visited briefly Wednesday at Media Days, and it looks like they are more than willing to lead the charge doing something about the agents in college football.
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