The development of the NFLPA’s licensing of agents is somewhat of an evolving story.As of an article dated June 12, 1988, the NFLPA enacted a program to certify agents, butit was regarded as nothing more than a notary public.
In the early 90’s, there wereapproximately 500 approved NFL agents.
Two steps were made to de-incentivize becoming an agent. First off, more hurdles were put up to “qualify” agents. For instance,in late 1996, the NFLPA sent a basic quiz to agents on the Collective BargainingAgreement.
Approximately 200 to 250 agents either failed or scored poorly.
Thereafter,the NFLPA made testing a requirement and required “grandfathered” agents take the at-home exam until passing.
Among those suspended for failing the test was agent LelandHardy, who was widely criticized for the incentive-laden deal he negotiated for NewOrleans Saints then-rookie Ricky Williams.
Hardy was hired by rapper, Percy “Master P” Miller, to run his sports agency.
Thereafter, commissions were lowered. Agents initially collected around 10% for their services to a player, which led to more agents signing up. The maximum commission waslater lowered to 4%. In 1998, it was again lowered to 3%. Being an agentwasstilllucrative, but only produced an annual income to agents of $15,000-$30,000 per player with far fewer players in the league.The NFLalso didn't have the signing bonuses andguaranteed money that create such an immediate commission these days.As salariesskyrocketed, so did applications to be an agent.
To further tighten the rope, the NFLPA implemented a requirement of a 4-year degree. Italso created a program for vetting and monitoring financial advisors, and began offering players rookie symposiums on financial issues.
Fees were increased yet again. Whilesome were opposed to new restrictions, several prominent agents said them as a possiblemeasure to clean up the industry. One agent, Jack Wirth, said: "To tell the truth, I'd pay$5,000 if it would mean getting rid of some of these hangers-on.”
The same article said,“Because of inconsistent or unenforced state laws and no national standards due to thelack of a federal statute, much of the regulation of sports agent has fallen on the professional sports players' unions.”
The more things change, the more they havestayed the same.Every few years restrictions and cost have increased, making it an ever increasinglyexpensive proposition to be NFLPA-certified. Also, if you don’t place a client on an