How student athletes are protected by SPARTA

Most people know the Federal Trade Commission as the agency tasked with protecting consumers and businesses alike from unfair competition, unfair acts and otherwise deceptive practices. While this is accurate, it also creates an assumption that the agency somehow deals only with financial matters.

This, of course, is far from the truth, as the FTC is tasked by Congress with the enforcement and/or execution of administrative responsibilities for more than 70 laws. Indeed, it may come as a surprise for people to learn that its duties even extend into the realm of athletics via the Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act -- or SPARTA.

What is SPARTA?

At its core, SPARTA prohibits athlete agents from engaging in certain activities in conjunction with the signing of student-athlete contracts.

Who is considered an athlete agent under SPARTA?

An athlete agent is defined as an individual who recruits or solicits a student athlete -- either directly or indirectly -- to enter into an agency contract, or executes an agency contract with a student athlete.

Here, an agency contract is any oral or written agreement in which the student athlete authorizes an individual to solicit or negotiate professional sports/endorsement contracts on their behalf.

Can relatives be considered an athlete agent under SPARTA?

For the purposes of SPARTA, the following individuals are not treated as athlete agents of the student athlete: parents, guardians, siblings, spouses and grandparents.   

It's also important to note that "any legal counsel for purposes other than that of representative agency," or individuals acting solely on behalf of a professional sports team/organization are similarly not included in this definition.

Who is considered a student athlete?

A student athlete is defined as an individual who 1) plays, 2) is eligible to play, or 3) may be eligible in the future to play, any intercollegiate sport.

Someone who has been ruled permanently ineligible to participate in sanctioned college athletics is not a student athlete for purposes of the act.

We'll continue this discussion in our next post, exploring more about the prohibitions governing athlete agents under SPARTA and potential penalties for violations.

In the meantime, if you are an athlete who has been financially harmed by the intentional wrongdoing or decisions made by your agent, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional to learn more about your options.

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