This story includes the names of 30 former college football players who are alleged to have taken money or some other extra benefit in violation of NCAA rules. The primary source of these allegations is Josh Luchs, who has been a certified NFL agent for 20 years.
SI senior writer George Dohrmann met Luchs [pronounced LUX] in July while working on a story about the agent business. Luchs represented more than 60 players during his career, which placed him in the middle class of the industry. He was viewed by other agents as a particularly dogged recruiter and noted for his partnerships with more seasoned player representatives. When Dohrmann learned that Luchs was leaving the profession, he proposed a first-person account of life as an agent. Luchs was initially reluctant but ultimately decided to tell his story. At no point was he promised or given any form of compensation for his participation.
In more than 20 hours of interviews Luchs described the payments he says he made to players as well as other events in his career. He spoke in detail—remembering that a Miami player who visited his home ate a cold steak with his hands and that an Arizona lineman liked to hit golf balls through one wall of his apartment and that a key conversation with a player from Washington State took place in a hotel bathroom. Many of his accounts were bolstered either by photographs, money-order receipts or loan agreements, or by confirmations to Dohrmann or SI staff writer David Epstein from third parties who were present for meetings that Luchs had described. The response to each allegation can be found on the bottom of the same page on which the allegation appears.
Eight players confirmed to SI that they had accepted money or benefits from Luchs. Several of them, including former USC receiver R. Jay Soward, said they took the payments because their scholarship didn't provide enough money for rent and food. "I would do it again," Soward said. "I have four sons, and if somebody offered my son money in college and it meant he didn't have to be hungry, I would tell him to take it."
Seven other players said they knew Luchs but declined to comment when asked about the allegation that he had given them money or other benefits. Another player, when told SI was working on a story with Luchs, said he didn't know who that was; when informed of the allegation that he had accepted money from Luchs, the player asked SI to call back the next day but then did not respond to further phone and e-mail messages. Three other players also initially responded to calls or e-mails from Luchs or SI but did not reply to further messages from SI after being made aware of Luchs's allegations about them.
Five players and one television personality denied all or part of Luchs's allegations. SI could not reach two other players, including a current NFL player whose agent and team were informed of the allegation about the player; neither the agent nor the team responded. Four other players to whom Luchs said he gave money are deceased.
Neither the schools nor the players in this story are likely to face NCAA scrutiny. The NCAA has a four-year statute of limitations on violations, and the most recent violation alleged by Luchs occurred in 2005. There are exceptions to the statute, but none appear applicable.
I WILL NEVER FORGET THE FIRST TIME I PAID A PLAYER.
There are moments you will always remember, like your first kiss or your first home run or the day you met your wife. For me, the first time I broke an NCAA rule to try to land a client is just as indelible.