By Kinnon Rockness

Recently, 26-year-old Christian Dawkins was found bribing and conspiring with NCAA coaches to pressure players to sign with his sports management company and financial advisers.

Dawkins was sentenced to a year and a half in prison. His case is being appealed. During the trial, in which Dawkins broke down crying several times, his attorney, Steven Haney, made the claim, “Notwithstanding the terms of the current protective order, the Government is fully aware numerous Division I head basketball coaches engaged in the same conduct as charged in his case, but for some inexplicable reason were not charged.”

If this statement is true, then what action has been taken (or not taken) in the past? What will this mean for the future of Dawkins, as well as collegiate coaches and athletes?

Crimes in Sports

In a case related to Dawkins, South Carolina coach Merl Code was found guilty of bribery. He was sentenced to three months in prison. Code’s goal was the same as Dawkins’– steering future NBA players towards money managers and handlers. Code originally faced three to four years in prison but was granted leniency. This is because he played a lesser role in the larger conspiracy involving bribery in college sports.

Aside from Dawkins and Code, 10 individuals were arrested after being involved in a similar conspiracy two years ago. Clearly, this issue is not being swept under the rug nor overlooked in recent cases. 

The very first rule in the NCAA Regulations handbook states, “You cannot accept payment or a promise of payments for participation in your sport.” Further in the document, it also specifies that student-athletes may not agree to be represented by a current or future agent until their eligibility has been exhausted. 

Bribery is a crime in the United States and is punishable for various situations outside of college sports. However, in these specific instances, these individuals and coaches were directly violating the rules of the NCAA. These rules are laid out for athletes, but coaches play a major role in making sure that their athletes are being held accountable.

Based on these convictions and current NCAA bylaws, the future is not looking very bright for people such as Dawkins, who hope to draw athletes towards their management companies.

This, in turn, affects coaches and athletes who hope to receive benefits that they would otherwise be able to accept. States are currently trying to introduce an act called the “Fair Pay to Play Act.” This act would allow student-athletes to accept endorsements and sponsorships, as well as hiring agents to help them in managing this process.

So far, this act has had success in the state of California and was passed on October 1, 2019. Since this bill has been passed, it is illegal for student-athletes to be restricted or punished if they sought these types of agreements. This bill bypasses the NCAA’s current regulations, so it is quite controversial and there is much at stake for this association.

A Glimpse of Hope

If this bill were to be passed and spread across the entire nation, the number of crimes and controversy over athletes and finances should decrease significantly. Before it was passed in California, UConn’s head football coach, Randy Edsall, stated, “I hope every state in the union passes the bill. I hope the governor signs it in California, and I know South Carolina is doing something about it.” If this happens to be the case, management companies and representatives would not have to deal (or in these situations, bribe) with coaches to make dealings with athletes. 

Even if they did, this would not cause problems and would only benefit both parties. Athletes would have the ability to earn additional funds for the hard work they put into their sports and plan for the future that they may have in the professional world.

As the lawmaking process continues and rules change, we might eventually see an increase in college athletes earning money and getting ready for their roles as pros.