Oklahoma coaches: Agents and players should be punished for breaking NCAA rules, not schools

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Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops is the latest person seeking change in how agents are involved in college basketball and the recruiting process.

At a fan event for Sooners fans on Thursday night, Stoops suggested that agents and players should be the ones punished for breaking the NCAA's amateurism rules instead of schools.

"We all educate (players) over and over. We all do. But in the end if two people, an agent and a person, decide to do something on their own, they knowingly are breaking the rules," Stoops told the audience at a Sooner Caravan stop. "But here's what has to happen: It's just my opinion. I'm not a basketball coach, but the NBA is not supporting NCAA basketball. I really believe that the NFL will support college football.

"Until you penalize the agent and the individual, nothing's going to change."

Stoops said players and agents could be suspended without pay for a full year or part of a season if found to have "intentionally and knowingly" broken the rules.

"There's things they can do, and they need to start penalizing the individuals that are involved, not the schools," Stoops said. "The schools have nothing to do with it."

Stoops spoke after the issue was initially raised in a question-and-answer session with Sooners men's basketball coach Jeff Capel, whose program is being investigated by the NCAA. Tiny Gallon, the player at the center of the investigation, has said his mother accepted a gift from a financial adviser that was used to pay for his high-school transcripts to be released so he could play for the Sooners.

"Our sport is so different and so unique because guys can leave after one year, so there's so many influences on these guys," Capel said. "When I was down in San Antonio with the USA basketball team, with the under-18 team, sitting in the stands during those games were agents, financial people.

"It's an epidemic. It's something that the NCAA is, I think, trying to get their hands around but it's really, really hard for us and it starts happening on the grassroots (level). It's not when they get here. These things start happening when these kids are in ninth and 10th grade because they've identified who they think could be possibly the next big thing."

Capel said Stoops "hit it right on the head" with his assessment that agents and players should be punished.

"I agree," Capel said. "I think there needs to be punishment to the agent once they've found it. And if they look hard enough, you can find it. It's actually pretty simple. It's not that hard to look and see who's doing what. And punishment to the player, absolutely."

The issue of agents' involvement in college sports has been a hot topic recently as the NCAA investigates whether players at four Southeastern Conference schools and North Carolina had improper contact with agents.

"One of the things that's actually on the table for men's basketball that I think would be the worst thing — the absolute worst thing — is to allow kids to have agents," Capel said. "I think that would be the absolute worst thing that you could do.

"They're saying that one of the reasons the NCAA is talking about it is because they can't control it, because it is the NBA Players Association that controls it."

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said that so many people are trying to influence players before they're even recruited by colleges that it can be impossible for schools to enforce the NCAA's rules. He suggested a step in the right direction would be to do away with the rule that allows basketball players to spend just one season in college before going to the NBA.

"For every situation that works out well, there's eight to 10 that don't," Castiglione said. "It may even be a wider gap than that."

But he admitted that even that change wouldn't eliminate the problem entirely.

"There's not one single group that can control it by themselves," Castiglione said. "The situation has to develop where all of the governing bodies of the various sports come together and create a rule that can be enforced."