USC Agent Summit

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In an effort to further the culture of compliance and better understand the student-athlete's mindset, USC's athletic administration hosted a summit today with three prominent professional agents and representatives from the NCAA, NFL, Pac-12, SEC and Pac-12 universities to exchange thoughts on best practices and generate ideas to help solve the current problems in collegiate athletics.

"It was a great room of people that were willing to engage in thoughtful discussion," said senior associate athletic director Mark Jackson, who organized the summit, which included USC president C.L. Max Nikias.

While the Trojan administrators are fluent on the rules and regulations currently in place, they wanted to engage the room in a discussion built on the real situations student-athletes face regarding agents. 

As an example, the agents (Tom Condon, Jimmy Sexton and Rick Smith) advised that the athletic department's message was counterintuitive as far as pushing the pros to the side in favor of supporting the university's ideals.  In reality, many student-athletes are more focused on getting drafted than graduating.

"I need to embrace the concept that our guys here want to go to the NFL and the NBA," concluded Haden, who requested the summit.

Instead of discouraging student-athletes from dreaming of a professional sports career, Haden wants to educate them.

"Let's help them.  Let's not be an impediment," Haden said as part of a post-summit debrief with reporters alongside Jackson and vice president for athletic compliance Dave Roberts.  "We're not going to have a football major, but we want to be able to have enough resources for our men and women -- to get valuable information for them to make good decisions."

Jackson would like to see a "national consistent curriculum to satisfy all the agendas involved," while Roberts believes the education needs to start as young as possible.

"The views that they shape may even be ones that they formed before they get here," Roberts said.

Haden also talked about "extenders of compliance," which refers to assistant coaches and team personnel that are in close day-to-day contact with the student-athletes.

As a successful example, Roberts cited the recent Everson Griffen party in Las Vegas, which the university's administrators requested the student-athletes not attend for several reasons

However, the compliance office only heard about the potential pitfall because a strength and conditioning coach mentioned it to Jackson, who passed it on to the compliance office.

"Kudos to everyone in the athletic department for what I believe is a great culture of compliance," Roberts commended.

Going forward at USC, Haden plans to hire an ombudsman, someone who has been through the process, to be an independent trusted counselor, so the student-athletes can get objective advice.

Also, the NFL's executive vice president Ray Anderson passed on a strong statement from commissioner Roger Goodell. 

"They are going to be looking to post-graduate penalties," Haden relayed.  "You cannot escape accountability just by shuffling off to the NFL."

In all, USC's executive team is excited to implement change going forward.

"It was a great day," said Jackson in summation.  "For us to take the lead as a university on it, I think was really special."

Click here to watch Mark Jackson's post-summit remarks or click this link to hear from Dave Roberts!

Here is Pat Haden on the day...

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Great article. USC has been an NFL player factory for decades.

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