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Found: A rules-abiding player agent

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Joel Turner must feel like the only driver traveling at the posted speed on a notoriously fast stretch of interstate highway.

"There's a reason we haven't signed the top players at Clemson or South Carolina," said Turner, a North Myrtle Beach-based agent who represents 14 National Football League players. "We can't afford it."

An agent scandal has grabbed college football headlines for a month. Players at North Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Georgia (former Summerville High School wide receiver A.J. Green) and South Carolina (tight end Weslye Saunders) are under NCAA investigation for alleged improper involvement with agents.

Green and Saunders have said they did nothing wrong.

Turner isn't surprised by the whole mess.

He blames state law enforcement officials for not taking a stand against rules-breaking agents who improperly or illegally contact top college players and offer lucrative signing inducements including the kind of parties and summer trips at the heart of current NCAA probes.

"I am extremely disappointed in every state agency that has failed to act in any regard on these allegations that are made through the media and through sources that apparently have leaked information via either college teams or the NCAA on players that are being investigated," said Turner, 41.

"Our own state has had the NCAA come in not once but twice, apparently, to the University of South Carolina. Why has the state of South Carolina -- be it (S.C. Attorney General) Henry McMaster or (S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs attorney) Carri Grube- Lybarker -- not knocked on the door at the University of South Carolina to say, 'We need to talk. Sounds like we might have somebody violating athlete agent laws.' "

Spiller's big bonus

Turner's client list includes hard-hitting Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark, former South Carolina kicker Ryan Succop (Kansas City Chiefs) and former Tennessee quarterback Jonathan Crompton (San Diego Chargers). Former Coastal Carolina quarterback Tyler Thigpen (Miami Dolphins) and former Chanticleers running back Mike Tolbert and safety Quinton Teal (both of the Chargers) also are clients.

It doesn't take Gordon Gekko of "Wall Street" to know top NFL prospects are a good investment. Note the contract C.J. Spiller just signed with the Buffalo Bills as a 2010 first-round draft pick. The former Clemson running back last week received a deal worth a reported $20.8 million in guaranteed money.

Though agents certified by the NFL Players Association may not take more than a 3 percent cut of client contracts, veteran agent Gary Wichard eventually figures to get $624,000 for his trouble.

Such a commission inspires lots of competition.

"There's a tremendous temptation to do whatever it takes," Turner said. Percentage of agents who abide by state and NFLPA rules?

"Very few," Turner said. "Probably into the single digits."

Asked to name a well-known football agent he respected for doing business the right way, Turner said, "There isn't one."

'It irks me'

South Carolina is among 38 states with agent certification laws. Turner, a Wofford College graduate who does not have a law degree, is licensed by both the state of South Carolina and the NFLPA. He works with his brother Justin, also licensed in South Carolina. Justin Turner took the NFLPA test this week.

Former South Carolina assistant coach Tank Black, an agent whose client list was heavy with former Florida and South Carolina players during the 1990s, was accused of fraud and money-laundering. He served almost eight years in prison. But agents rarely are prosecuted, suspended or fined.

"If it was up to me, every agent violating laws would be banned for life," Turner said. "But the NFLPA isn't serious about this. And states should say, 'You cannot contact these players without a license and if you do, we're going to put you in jail.' But they don't do it. They don't do anything."

Turner warns of more agent scandals in the Palmetto State.

"We have some of the biggest agent problems in America," Turner said, "because we have some of the best prospects in America. When I watch player after player from South Carolina and Clemson and Furman and The Citadel sign with other agents, I know what's going on. It irks me."

It is not, Turner said, hard to follow the rules.

"I've been doing it for 11 damn years," he said. "That's the reason I'm not rich. I'm not rolling in it because I don't try to pay off all the top players."

Reach Gene Sapakoff at

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