HOOVER, Ala. | Tennessee coach Derek Dooley and Auburn's Gene Chizik both say the onus isn't just on agents to follow the rules, college athletes know the difference between right and wrong.
“A lot of this has got to go back to the young guy,” Chizik said Friday. “He's got to have an allegiance to his school. He's got to have an allegiance to his teammates. He's got to have an allegiance to his coaches and to his university. The bottom line is, I think everybody probably does a really good job of trying to educate their kids.
“If they know right from wrong and they choose to do wrong, then they don't really have an allegiance to the people that I just mentioned. They know right from wrong.”
It was a slightly different message from the first two days of the Southeastern Conference media days, when coaches were on the attack against unscrupulous sports agents.
Investigations are ongoing at Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida for alleged improper contact, along with North Carolina. The rash of issues led Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban to liken the actions of those rogue agents to the behavior of a pimp.
Dooley and Chizik both said the athletes are willing participants.
“At the end of the day, it's the responsibility of the player to not take it,” Dooley said. “And I don't know any other way to put it. It's a responsibility of the player that if somebody comes up and confronts you in public and wants to fight you, to walk away. It's a responsibility of the player not to break the law. So it's a responsibility of the player not to break the rules of the NCAA.”
Several players agreed with that sentiment, including LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard.
“Both sides are responsible,” Sheppard said. “Both are adults. Definitely, players need to take ownership and know certain rules they need to abide by as a college athlete.”
Tennessee and Auburn are among schools that hired consultant Joe Mendes, a former NFL executive, to help educate and manage players' dealings with agents.
“This is not a new problem,” Chizik said. “This did not happen this week for the first time. This is an ongoing issue that everybody is aware of, and I don't know what the right legislation is to kind of put a cap on this thing.
“I know that it's been a problem that everybody's been aware of, and this isn't the first time. It's one that's challenging in terms of being able to get our hands around it. Whether it's the NFL or NCAA, I'm sure that there's going to be a brighter light shined on trying to find some legislation somewhere to be able to regulate it. But it's hard to regulate.”
LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson said he was approached by agents or their representatives “maybe three times a week” at the start of his junior year.
“It was pretty crazy,” Peterson said. “It was wild. I knew how to tell those guys it's not the proper time for all this, it's not the right moment. I'll talk to you when it's the right time.”