GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Urban Meyer believes there's one way to deter rogue agents from having improper contact with college football players: Punishment.
For everyone involved, too.
Meyer said Friday that "you don't have to be a brain surgeon to figure this thing out," then added that mandating harsh penalties for agents and players who break the rules would be a major step toward eliminating the kind of unscrupulous contact that has plagued college football in recent months.
"You want to stop some kind of unethical, illegal activity? How do you do it? You punish them," Meyer said. "The players get punished, and you want to stop the other side, too. It's almost like in recruiting: If there's no threat of a punishment, go have at it."
Meyer's comments came one day after Alabama's Nick Saban said he helped organize a conference call with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the NFL Players Association, fellow coaches and a handful of athletic directors and agents. The call addressed problems with agents that have led to NCAA investigations at several schools this summer.
Meyer, Ohio State's Jim Tressel, Texas' Mack Brown and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops also were on the call.
"I loved it," Meyer said. "I loved the fact that you have everybody involved and everybody wanting to do right. It was about as positive as you can get because everybody wants to do right. ... At the end of the day, obviously, there are people who don't want to do right. But the majority I would say want to do it right."
The NCAA has investigated alleged improper agent contact at Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. The NCAA recently punished USC for similar behavior.
Saban, who coached the Miami Dolphins in 2005 and '06, suggested last month that he would consider restricting NFL scouts' access to Crimson Tide players. Saban temporarily closed practices to NFL scouts this week, but he said that wasn't because of the agent problem. Saban said it wasn't fair to have his players evaluated during two-a-day practices in triple-digit temperatures.
Saban has been one of the most outspoken advocates of finding ways to ensure that rule-breaking agents whose actions lead to punishment of players also face penalties, including suspension of their license for a year or two.
Saban suggested that players who have improper dealings with agents could have the consequences carry into their NFL careers.
But it remains to be seen if the NFLPA would agree to punish players for things they did in college. And would NFL teams sign off on anything more than a fine?
Meyer anticipates changes. Maybe not soon, but the conference call certainly established the groundwork for something to happen down the road.
"There are certain people with integrity who do it the right way," Meyer said. "But a good chunk of them won't because, if there's no punishment, have at it. ... There are a lot of positives going around for the good of college football. We can't lose college football. We just can't lose college football."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press