NFLPA conference call tackles agent discipline, source says

NEW YORK -- NFL players union head DeMaurice Smith held a conference call Tuesday with agents to discuss possibly changing the certification process and how agents are disciplined for violating rules.

Several people familiar with the call told The Associated Press that Smith expressed interest in reviewing how agents are approved by the NFLPA and what the qualifications should be to become a pro football agent. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the call.

The call was held 11 days after agent Gary Wichard was suspended for nine months by the union for his role in a recruiting scandal involving the University of North Carolina.

Wichard, an agent since 1980, was suspended for his involvement with Marvin Austin, a former Tar Heels player who was dismissed from the team in October.

In its ruling, the NFLPA said the California-based Wichard is suspended beginning Dec. 1 "for having impermissible communication with Austin at a time Austin was not eligible for the NFL draft under the NFL/NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement."

The union also revoked the agent certification of USC undergrad Teague Egan, who gave a ride across campus to tailback Dillon Baxter, a violation of NCAA rules.

During Tuesday's conference call, Smith also updated the agents on the NFLPA's potential decertification as a union to prevent a lockout by the owners. Players on every team voted on approving decertification earlier this season.

The collective-bargaining agreement agreed upon in 2006 expires in March after the owners opted out of it in 2008. Decertification would enable the union to sue under antitrust laws if there is a lockout.

Without decertification, the union would have to wait six months after the collective-bargaining agreement expired to file a suit.

For more NFL labor news, visit http://NFLLabor.com

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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