Dr. G. Lynn Lashbrook has been a certified agent with the NFL for 15 years and has represented over 25 NFL players. Dr. Lashbrook has also been working and teaching in Sports Management for over 30 years and has demonstrated a lifelong passion for helping students strategize and reach their career goals in the world of sports.
Dr. Lashbrook has served at the collegiate level as an athletic academic advisor and athletic director. Currently, Dr. Lashbrook is President of Sports Management Worldwide and serves as an adjunct professor at Oregon State University and Eastern Oregon University.
High profile athletes such as Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo have been accused of accepting money from agents. What do you think the NCAA and professional sports leagues can do to prevent these problems from reoccurring?
In my 35 years of involvement in athletics as a coach, professor, academic advisor, compliance officer, athletics director, and sports agent, I am convinced you can't necessarily legislate ethics, but you can bring passionate people with an ethical foundation into leadership positions and teach them the courage to illuminate the ethical compass with courage.
Specifically speaking about the Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo scandals, the one common denominator is USC. Where were the AD, compliance officer, and coaches? The NCAA must address these trends on a campus.
As for the allegations of the agents' involvement each year these scandals surface, agents are temporarily suspended, but in my opinion they should be given a much stronger penalty equivalent to the NCAA "death penalty" where they have to close down shop for several years.
Again, you can legislate rules and punishment, but the tolerance we have in the sports culture for deceit and denial is alarming.
From your experience in the industry, are these isolated issues, or is paying college athletes something that is not uncommon?
It is my observation that the stakes are much higher monetarily than ever before, and success in any business is about talent. In the recruiting wars for talent, both the coach and agent understand the importance of landing the elite.
Unfortunately, cheating to some in sports is not cheating if one does not get caught. Again, this culture of everybody is doing it continues to create a confidence that to win you must be a risk taker.
I personally do not feel it is necessarily worse than it was 50 years ago, but with the post-Watergate media and the Internet democratization of blogs, there are very few secrets in sports.
We do need some infusion of new leadership in the game at all levels. For centuries sports has been run by people who have been a product of the sports with very little involvement of outsiders. Simply put, I believe if we had more women in decision-making positions in sports, we would have a more illuminated ethical compass!
Why do you think the MLB has been under such a microscope regarding steroids compared to the NFL? Both are sports that require tremendous mass and strength. Does the NFL know something we don't, or do the majority of the players abide by the rules?
At least the NFL has attempted to address the drug problems with improved testing and policies and procedures, while the MLB owners, players, and agents have been in denial. It is embarrassing for me to watch baseball squirm all of these years. Where is the ethical leadership?
When people say that sports is a reflection of society, I remind them we can drug test in sports, but we can't on the streets of society. Again, when you are a product of a system, you won't see the seriousness of the problem clearly, as the culture of tolerance, of deceit and denial in sports continues to permeate.
What do you think the reason is the NFL has so many off the field problems compared to other professional sports? Is the aggressive nature of the game cause for the players' acts of violence?
First, football has the largest rosters, and as I said, with the new media no one is protected, nor should they be.
It is my personal opinion, having the opportunity as a college coach recruiter and sports agent to go in the homes of hundreds of football players, no matter the demographics, we take the football player from the mother and grandmother and put them in an all-male environment. To me guys will be guys, and before long they feed off each other in the framework of invincible.
Elite athletes are given the opportunity at a very young age to become special by the power of their athleticism in navigating daily challenges of life. Only before 18 years of age is the mother there to provide the ego check in a way that no coach can do.
There seems to be a cycle in college football where a coach's job is on the line needing to win, and he recruits players with maybe questionable character. I feel like the only way to solve this cycle would be to give coaches guaranteed long-term deals allowing them to build the programs the right way.
What prevents schools from adopting this philosophy? Is it the athletic director, fans, alumni, money, or a combination?
Over the past 35 years in college athletics, my philosophy has changed somewhat. I am critical of the inefficiencies of higher education and faculty who are tenured and guaranteed jobs whether deserving or not.
Personally, the intercollegiate model where sports teams are the front porch for a university and where fans (alums and boosters) demand excellence is not all bad. Competition is what makes the world go around. Coaches should always have a backup plan due to the high risk occupation.
Again, I believe the corruption we see too often in college athletics is sad. I am very encouraged with the NCAA's efforts to hold universities accountable for graduation rates (APR). With online education opportunities, you will see increased graduation rates with the accommodations it provides for those student athletes traveling.
From a global perspective on the funding crisis in higher education, I predict you will see an unprecedented adoption of the college athletic business model we see in America as universities all over the world are asked to seek more private funds from alumni. What better place to attract donors than on a Saturday afternoon on campus while watching an exciting contest?
With all the chaos in the world, I believe sports serves as a substitute for war. With TV and the Internet looking for live content that can't be Tivoed, sponsors are putting more and more money into sports sponsorship.
Here at Sports Management Worldwide, we respect what our neighbors at Nike have accomplished placing a sports footprint around the world. Our courage is to fill those shoes with leaders with the courage to illuminate an ethical compass, no matter what level of athlete they were or were not!