September 12, 2013 1:08:52 PM
STARKVILLE - The Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann refused comment on the Yahoo Sports national report with evidence former and current football players from three different Southeastern Conference schools received impermissible benefits.
Players from Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi State were named in a Yahoo Sports report claiming players received benefits from former Alabama defensive end Luther Davis, who is believed to be an intermediary between several college football stars and NFL agents and financial advisers.
"Mississippi State University has always been responsive and cooperative to any inquiry by our Agency," Hosemann said in a official statement through his communication department. "Furthermore, Mississippi State provided invaluable input to our recent revisions to Mississippi's Athlete Agent law. However, it is the policy of the Secretary of State's Office to neither confirm, comment or deny any current or potential investigation our Agency conducts."
The secretary of state website lists two of the agents named in the report (Andrew Simms and Issac Conner) are registered in Mississippi but Davis is not registered. Davis' reported actions in the Yahoo Sports report could be interpreted as a violation of the Mississippi Athlete Agent Act as the bylaws state the following as a definition of what is considered a agent:
"an individual who enters into an agency contract with a student-athlete or, directly or indirectly, recruits, induces or solicits a student-athlete to enter into an agency contract. 'Contact' means a communication, direct or indirect, written or oral, between an athlete agent and a student-athlete, to recruit, induce or solicit the student-athlete to enter into an agency contract."
The benefits were reportedly provided to former Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, former Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray, current Tennessee defensive end Maurice Couch, former Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and former Mississippi State wide receiver Chad Bumphis.
MSU officials have confirmed to The Dispatch the school has enlisted the services of attorney Mike Glazier as legal counsel in this matter. Glazier, head of law firm Bond, Schoeneck & King's Collegiate Sports Practice Group, has served as legal counsel for the MSU athletic department in its last two significant NCAA investigations involving football player Will Redmond and basketball player Renardo Sidney.
The Dispatch has also learned MSU officials informed the SEC office of the matter Wednesday afternoon and will continue to communicate with them if further facts are determined.
The MSU football program is already on probation through the 2015 season, serving a small scholarship reduction and facing a loss of four recruiting visits by the NCAA. A NCAA investigation revealed in June a former booster assisted Memphis area recruit Will Redmond in purchasing a automobile at a discount and other financial benefits. Redmond, now a sophomore defensive back, was reinstated after paying back $2,660 in benefits, forfeiting a year of eligibility and being withheld from the first five games of the 2013 season.
The website report provided copies of receipts for the purchase of airfare and a itinerary from Davis of a meeting taking place at Little Dooey's restaurant in Starkville. According to the Yahoo Sports report Davis' records included a receipt showing airline tickets from Birmingham, Ala. to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., worth $1,259.40 were issued to Davis, Cox, Bumphis and former MSU defensive back Johnthan Banks, the website reports.
Text messages and phone calls to Cox by The Dispatch have not been returned.
"Mississippi State constantly educates our student athletes about agent related issues," MSU athletics compliance director Bracky Brett said in a statement Wednesday. "We've also worked closely with the Mississippi Secretary of State's office in recent years to strengthen the Mississippi Uniform Agent Act. As always, we will do our due diligence to evaluate any potential concerns."
In the last calendar year, Hosemann's office has gone after actions between agents either not registered in the state or intermediaries acting on agent's behalf in cases involving former Ole Miss basketball player Terrance Henry and East Central Community College baseball player Tim Anderson.
The agent figures involved in both of the Henry and Anderson cases agreed to a $1,000 fine. The According to the Athlete Agent commission of any act prohibited by an athlete agent could be a felony punishable by a fine of not more than $10,000 and/or by imprisonment of not more than two years.
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