Agents under scrutiny amid reports of paying potential clients

The NFL Players Association has suspended contract adviser Marlon Sullivan for six months and fined him $10,000 because his employee gave money to a former college football player.

Under NFLPA regulations, contract advisers are held responsible for the actions of recruiters.

Sullivan also failed to sign a disclosure form acknowledging that he would pay the recruiter a fee to recruit the player as a client of Sullivan's firm.

The NFLPA didn't name the player involved.

The announcement Tuesday came on the same day that Sports Illustrated published an article detailing how a former sports agent paid college football players early in his career.

Josh Luchs says in the Oct. 18 edition of the magazine that he paid more than 30 players from 1990 to 1996, including many who didn't sign with him.

He says Ryan Leaf, the 1998 No. 2 overall draft pick who famously flopped in the pros, took more than $10,000, most of which the quarterback voluntarily paid back after signing with another agent. Leaf declined to comment on specific allegations.

Luchs also says he paid former first-round picks Jamir Miller and Chris Mims. Miller, a linebacker from UCLA taken 10th by the Arizona Cardinals in 1994, declined comment. Mims, a defensive lineman from Tennessee taken 23rd by the San Diego Chargers in 1992, died in 2008.

Luchs was suspended for a year by the NFL Players Association in 2007 over the handling of a commission check. He says he's telling his story because "I don't want my career to be defined by that suspension."

Luchs says he didn't pay players while working with Gary Wichard, the agent linked to the investigation of NCAA violations at North Carolina. But Luchs says Wichard and John Blake, the Tar Heels assistant who resigned amid the investigation, worked together in violation of NCAA rules in 2002.

Wichard and Blake declined comment through their lawyers.

Luchs sued Wichard for breach of contract after leaving his agency and lost the lawsuit. Wichard filed the grievance with the NFLPA over Luchs' handling of the check.

Luchs says Jonathan Ogden, the Baltimore Ravens' 11-time Pro Bowl tackle, wouldn't take money but accepted concert tickets in violation of NCAA rules. Ogden confirmed the account.

Luchs lists more than 20 other players he says he paid: Michigan State's Tony Banks; Arizona's Rob Waldrop; Tennessee's Chuck Webb; Portland State's Darick Holmes; Illinois' Mel Agee; USC's Travis Claridge, Phalen Pounds, R. Jay Soward and Delon Washington; Colorado's Kanavis McGhee, Joel Steed and Greg Thomas; Washington State's Leon Bender, Torey Hunter, Singor Mobley and John Rushing; and UCLA's Chris Alexander, Ryan Fien, Carl Greenwood, Othello Henderson, Vaughn Parker, Matt Soenksen and Bruce Walker.

Alexander, Greenwood, Henderson, Mobley, Soenksen, Soward, and Walker confirmed receiving money. Fien, Hunter, Steed and Waldrop said they didn't receive money from Luchs.

Banks, Parker, Pounds and Rushing declined to comment on the allegations. Holmes, McGhee, Thomas, Washington and Webb didn't respond to requests to comment.

Agee, Claridge and Bender are deceased.

Luchs says Dana Stubblefield, J.J. Stokes and Keyshawn Johnson -- all of whom later played in the NFL -- declined to take money from him.

Luchs says that while he was recruiting Ohio State's Santonio Holmes in 2005, the receiver said he had been taking money from an agent for a couple of years. Holmes, now with the New York Jets, said the story was untrue.

Luchs also says that ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper helped Wichard recruit players. Kiper denied the claim.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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