If you told me one of the Gator seniors from last season had taken money between the SEC Title Game and the Sugar Bowl, I would have been surprised but not completely shocked. When I read reports that such an allegation was made against Maurkice Pouncey, I, frankly, was stunned.
I like to consider myself a pretty good judge of character and I think the transition of personnel in the internet world lately has provided at least some documentation of that. I don’t know what, if anything happened but I find it hard to believe Maurkice Pouncey would make such a decision in that small window of time. There were just 25 days between the games.
We have seen Bob’s input that the Pouncey/Webster family is denying the charge and there’s no question all of Gator Nation shares the hope that it turns out to be a false accusation. Still this situation, combined with investigations into allegations about players at North and South Carolina, provides a reminder that concern about unethical agents can never be completely dismissed.
Florida had its issues with Mo Collins and, of course the Tank Black situation and agent behavior is at the core of the Reggie Bush situation at USC.
The state of Florida has criminal penalties for agents or agent representatives who provide illegal benefits to college student-athletes and that law has seemingly worked well throughout the state. This allegation, whether true or completely fabricated, will result in a renewed emphasis on avoiding even the appearance of impropriety. Allow me to make a couple of suggestions in that regard.
Penalties for student-athletes ---- While agents and their representatives can be prosecuted for this kind of behavior student-athletes can only suffer damage to their eligibility and reputation. Frankly, that’s not enough. There should be a schedule of fines and possible jail time for a student-athlete who accepts illegal benefits and continues to play for his school. Additionally it should result in career ineligibility.
Ban agent interaction ---- One of the most ridiculous things about the NCAA and prospective agents is that contact between would be agents and student-athletes is completely permissible. I’m sorry, but that’s like giving your daughter a bottle of wine, hotel room key and a box of condoms the night of the prom and telling her not to have sex. There is plenty of time to go shopping for an agent after you make the decision to turn pro and the upcoming draft. While this would be very difficult to enforce, having the rule in force does add another barrier to illegal activity.
It probably won’t be long before this situation plays itself out, though probably not in time to eliminate it as the number one story at SEC Media Days, which gets underway on Wednesday. Most agents are ethical and do things the right way and there’s no proof yet that anything inappropriate occurred in this case.
No matter. The damage has been done. The issue is back on the front burner, and schools must re-double their efforts to keep the slime balls at arm’s length.
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