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Most former college and semi-pro athletes tend to follow the path of Bruce Springsteen’s song “Glory Days.” Their day in the sun has long since faded, and they have little left to contribute to their sport, except embellished memories. Todd S. Sharinn, though, is one former athlete who doesn’t rest on past accomplishments. No longer a competitor on the ice, the ex-hockey player recently scored a victory for Connecticut’s current and future college athletes, spearheading legislation that protects them — and the colleges and universities they attend — from unscrupulous sports agents. Chairman of the Connecticut Bar Association’s Sports and Entertainment Law Section, Sharinn drew on his experience as a college athlete at Boston University, a coach and a representative of professional sports teams to help draft the legislation. A resident of Stamford, he works for Greenberg & Traurig in Manhattan. “The real need for this law is Connecticut’s institutions have grown to the point where they are dominating forces and producing student-athletes [who are becoming professionals],” Sharinn said. “It could be the end of a program if one of these kids gets in trouble.” Granting educational institutions the right to sue might be the most controversial aspect of Public Act 04-55, approved this past legislative session. Under the new law, which takes effect in January, a school has a right of action against a sports agent or former student-athlete for damages caused by violating the law. It also allows the court to award costs and reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party. Among other provisions, the law forbids agents from furnishing anything of value to student-athletes, or their friends and family members, before the two sides enter into a contract. “Agents dealing with kids in the state of Connecticut are going to think twice before doing something,” said Sharinn. “I think it’s a pretty strong act. … I defy somebody to find a weakness in it,” he said. One person believes he already has. Craig Fenech, a New Jersey lawyer, sits on the board of directors for the Sports Lawyers Association. He praises most of the new law, but verbally cringes when told how it provides relief for educational institutions. “I’m not in favor of creating a new cause of action for the schools. That’s nonsense,” he said. ” …It gives the notion they have some kind of property rights to student-athletes.” At a public hearing before the Judiciary Committee, Jeffrey A. Hathaway, the athletic director at the University of Connecticut, testified in support of the bill. He said it would protect the interests of student-athletes and their schools. Problems associated with illegal conduct by a sports agent, Hathaway added, can impact a student athlete’s National Collegiate Athletic Association eligibility. It can also result in financial penalties and “scandal” for the schools they attend, as happened to the University of Massachusetts after star basketball player Marcus Camby’s dealings with a sport agent came to light in 1996. The bill is a model state law that the NCAA is seeking to enact in every state. Sharinn said as many as 35 states have enacted earlier versions of the law. Both he and Fenech said legitimate agents applaud the new law because it applies uniform standards in conjunction with other states. “I think it’s a good thing,” Fenech said. “Formerly what was happening was every state would pass its own legislation. It made trying to comply a full-time job. … Most good agents favor regulation, but want one set of rules.”

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