Jadeveon Clowney made it clear last week at Southeastern Conference media days that he always planned to spend three years in college, then head to the NFL — and that he will follow through on that plan after this season. This came as a surprise to nobody, since he almost certainly will be the first overall pick in next year’s draft.
Of course, the widespread public knowledge that South Carolina’s All-American defensive end is gone after this season could have rippling and potentially negative effects.
USC spokesman Steve Fink said Tuesday that the school is following “standard procedure” in investigating reported contact between Clowney and a sports agency run by the rapper and music mogul Jay-Z.
Simply communicating with an agent — or someone representing a sports agency — is not, in itself, a violation of NCAA rules.
But, according to the NCAA, an athlete “may not agree verbally or in writing to be represented by an athlete agent in the present or in the future for the purpose of marketing the student-athlete’s ability or reputation. If the student-athlete enters into such an agreement, the student-athlete is ineligible for intercollegiate competition. Also, a student-athlete may not accept transportation or other benefits from an athlete agent. This prohibition applies to the student-athlete and his or her relatives or friends.”
The NCAA defines the term “agent” as: “actual agents, runners (individuals who befriend student-athletes and frequently distribute impermissible benefits) and financial advisors.”
In regard to permitting contact, the NCAA states: “It is not a violation of NCAA rules if a student-athlete merely talks to an agent (as long as an agreement for agent representation is not established) or socializes with an agent. For example, a student-athlete could go to dinner with an agent and no NCAA violations would result if the student-athlete provided his own transportation and paid for his meal.”
According to a report from Neil Stratton of InsideTheLeague.com, Clowney has been in regular contact with Jay-Z’s agency, Roc Nation Sports, and will probably sign with the group, which Jay-Z launched in April. The agency has a partnership with Creative Artists Agency, one the most powerful agencies in sports.
When Roc Nation Sports started, it simultaneously announced that it had gained New York Yankees star second baseman Robinson Cano as its first marquee client — a significant pickup, as Cano had previously been represented by Scott Boras, one of baseball’s most influential figures.
Clowney did nothing to distance himself from the report of contact between him and Roc Nation Sports. On his Instagram account, he reposted a link to the report and wrote: “You kno [sic] we about to turn up Dream coming true.”
During a television appearance with ESPN on Tuesday, USC coach Steve Spurrier said he has spoken to Clowney about issues involving agents and NCAA rules.
“When the bowl game is over this coming season, he’s free to accept any amount of money anybody wants to give him,” Spurrier said. “But until then, he has to be a student-athlete like all the other guys or he’s not going to be eligible. He’s done a good job of knowing that.”