Prior to June 1, 2012, these college football players were recruited by a variety of individuals acting on behalf of NFLPA certified Contract Advisors. They were labeled “runners,” and much of the blame for the perceived corruption surrounding the recruitment of “student-athletes” was placed on said individuals. In 2012, Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com described runners as, “slimeball trolls who work on behalf of agents to help recruit — a generous word — football prospects by illegally giving them cash (or cars or money for family members or rent for a nice house) so the player then signs with the agent upon turning pro.” Freeman went on to say, “It’s one of the most despicable practices in college sports and has soiled almost every corner of football for decades.”
In response to the growing criticism and power wielded by runners, the NFLPA took action. On June 1, 2012, it announced that any certified Contract Advisors who (1) use, (2) associate with, (3) employ or (4) enter into a business relationship with any non-NFLPA certified individual in the recruitment of prospective player-clients will be sanctioned by the Association. There is little value in disputing the sound intentions of the NFLPA in adopting such a rule; it is highly likely that the union truly wished to diminish the influence of runners and increase certified Contract Advisors’ ability to properly advise student-athletes on their perceived future value. Unfortunately, the consequence of the rule has forced runners to go underground while their power continues to be evident, and possibly growing with time.