Burned in recent years by a failure to prevent its football players from receiving benefits from agents, the University of North Carolina has opted to place extensive and largely unprecedented restrictions on those who hope to represent Tar Heels at the next level.
In an email sent Sunday to NFL agents, Associate Athletic Director Paul Pogge explains a new system that encompasses “all forms of contact by agents, advisors, and their representatives with UNC student-athletes.”
The program requires registration with the UNC athletics department prior to any communication with a UNC student-athlete or their parents, relatives, etc. Then, any contact with a UNC student-athlete or a family member must be preapproved by both the compliance office and the appropriate head coach.
“If approved, a member of the Compliance Office must be present for any in-person meeting or phone call with a UNC student-athlete,” the email explains. Also, any written communication must be submitted to the Compliance Office for approval before it is submitted to the student-athlete.
Basically, UNC will be treating its student-athletes like inmates.
While it will be an effective way to prevent agents from creating eligibility issues, there’s a point at which the control becomes excessive and unfair, limiting without proper justification the First Amendment rights of free speech and asociation. And it won’t be a surprise if one or more agents choose to file suit or otherwise challenge these rules.
If they don’t, other schools may try to follow suit.