Sports agents serve a valuable role in terms of securing and negotiating contracts for the professional athlete. Lawyers who represent athletes have generally been trained in the fundamentals of contracts and should be familiar with the current market value of their client relative to other athletes within the same sport. However, it should be noted that hiring a lawyer is not required (nor is an agent for that matter) to secure deals for the athlete.
One need not be a lawyer to be a sports agent, but many agents are lawyers. There is no typical, formal education program for sports agents. Many sports agents have law degrees. Others have no formal college education. Those who attend college earn degrees in a variety of fields, including legal studies, political science, sociology, and sports management.
Questions a Star College Player Might Ask about a Prospective Agent
First make sure that the agent is registered with the state .
- Did you graduate from Law School? If so, where and when did you graduate?
- Why does it matter whether my future agent went to Law School?
- What is your educational background?
- What is your professional background?
- Have you ever been disbarred, suspended, reprimanded, censured, or otherwise disciplined or disqualified as an attorney, or as a member of any other profession?
- Are there currently any complaints or charges pending against you regarding your conduct as an attorney or as a member of any profession?
- Have you ever been investigated or found guilty of any violations of NCAA rules or those of a professional organization? If so, when and what were the charges?
- Do not hesitate to ask around about a prospective agent’s reputation. Ask the player association of your sport, ask other athletes, even ask other agents.
- Do you have ownership interests in your company? Are you a partner or strictly an employee?
- What services do you offer to your clients other than contract negotiations? (financial planning, tax advice, etc.)
- Make sure your needs are met and that the agent is not overextended in the process.
- Who will be negotiating my contract?
- Can you provide me with a list of current clients?
- How many clients have you lost and what were the reasons for their leaving?
- Can you provide me with their phone numbers? (for privacy reason they may not be permitted to provide past clients contact information but it doesn’t hurt to ask and it would benefit you to know the reason the client left from the client’s prospective).
- Consider what it means to you to work with an agent whose clients have stayed with them for the player’s entire career.
- Have you ever had a dispute with a client and if so, how was it resolved?
- Who do you consider to be your top clients?
- What have you done to advance the careers of your clients off the field?
- What will you do for me once I decide I no longer want to play professionally?
- Do you provide an annual statement to your clients? Can you provide me with an example?
- How do you keep your clients informed of charges?
- What is your fee structure?
- Are fees negotiable?
- How and when are you to be paid?
- Are you bonded? (if your agent will be handling your money this is important)
- What is the duration of the agreement?
- What are the procedures for terminating the agreement?
- What happens to the agreement if I do not make the team; if I am waived; or if I get injured?
- What kind of insurance is provided to players?
- Can you provide me with a projection of my draft status?
- If I am a free agent, how can you help maximize my chances of making a team?
Be careful when dealing with a prospective agent who is willing to offer you money, gifts or other inducements to encourage you to sign with him or her; this will impact your eligibility, not theirs. Always interview more than one agent to ensure that you understand the process and are comfortable with your future decision.