With agents and improper benefits coming to light recently, Sports Illustrated struck while the iron was hot, convincing an agent to name names and divulge players he paid. Josh Luchs, the agent in question, gave detailed descriptions of players he provided benefits to, how he did it and how much money changed has while he was working out of Los Angeles. The 20 hours of interviews with Sports Illustrated yielded about 50 names, some of which have local connections.
Washington State got hit hard by Luchs' allegations. The 1997 Rose Bowl team showed up and was emphasized in the article, with a whole section devoted to his dealings with the Cougs. Among the players named were three Cougar defensive backs -- Torey Hunter, Singor Mobley and John Rushing -- and Leon Bender, a star in his own right.
The biggest fish from that WSU team was Ryan Leaf, who Luchs grew close to and allegedly provided a monthly stipend of around $500. Luchs allegedly took trips to Vegas and Tahoe with Leaf, even meeting Leaf in a hotel bathroom prior to the Rose Bowl in early 1998.
With Luchs' father dying, Leaf allegedly promised he's sign with the agent and assured Luchs' father his son had nothing to worry about.
Ryan knew what I was going through. One day, he came with me to my dad's house, and while he was there my dad got very upset, talking about how he hated that his illness prevented me from doing my job. Ryan told him, "Don't worry. Josh doesn't need to recruit any other players. He's got me."
When it came time to pick an agent and declare for the NFL draft, Leaf signed with another agent, leaving Luchs jaded and resentful.
At the end of it all, Leaf allegedly paid Luchs almost all of the money he took back. Luchs said he didn't apologize, didn't explain himself but he did pay it back in a moment of some maturity.
It's no secret that agents have been paying players to secure their services for as long as the agency game has been around. It's become more prevalent -- and the stakes are becoming higher -- as contracts and the bonus money that goes with them increase.
USC was recently sanctioned because Reggie Bush's parents took hundreds of thousands of dollars in improper benefits. North Carolina is under a microscope because Marvin Austin allegedly took benefits -- and he's now been ruled ineligible because of it. Even back in the 1980's, SMU was given the death penalty because of an athlete slush fund.
As long as there are agents, there will be players trying to skirt the rules and get something on the side. The NCAA is finally trying to do something about it, but it's almost too little to late.
Seeing players from Washington State show up in the report only confirms this can happen anywhere.