September 13, 2013 10:52:59 AM
Matthew Stevens - firstname.lastname@example.org
STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann refused comment on a Yahoo Sports report that two former Mississippi State football players received impermissible benefits.
Players from Alabama, Tennessee, and MSU were named in a Yahoo Sports report that claims the players received benefits from former Alabama defensive end Luther Davis, who is believed to be an intermediary between several college football players 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 statement. "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 says two of the agents named in the report -- Andrew Simms and Issac Conner -- are registered in the state of Mississippi, but Davis isn't registered. Davis' actions could be interpreted as a violation of the Mississippi Athlete Agent Act, as the bylaws state the definition of a athlete agent is "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." The act defines contact between a agent and athlete as "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 MSU defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, and former MSU wide receiver Chad Bumphis.
MSU officials confirmed to The Dispatch the school has enlisted the services of attorney Mike Glazier as legal counsel. 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 dealings with the NCAA in investigations involving football player Will Redmond and basketball player Renardo Sidney.
The Dispatch also has learned MSU officials informed the Southeastern Conference of the matter Wednesday afternoon and will continue to communicate with it if further facts are determined.
MSU's football program is on probation through the 2015 season after a NCAA investigation revealed in June a former booster assisted Redmond, a Memphis, Tenn., area recruit, in purchasing a automobile at a discount and in receiving other financial benefits. The program also had its number of scholarships and the number of recruiting visits reduced.
Redmond, a sophomore defensive back, was reinstated after paying back $2,660 in benefits. He forfeited a year of eligibility and is sitting out the first five games of this season.
The Yahoo Sports report provided copies of receipts for the purchase of airfare and an itinerary from Davis of a meeting that took place at Little Dooey's restaurant in Starkville. According to the 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.
Text messages and phone calls to Cox by The Dispatch haven't been returned.
In the last calendar year, Hosemann's office has pursued after two actions between agents 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 cases agreed to a $1,000 fine. 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.
Follow Matt Stevens on Twitter @matthewcstevens.