There seems to be a lot of confusion out there about what a family Adviser is, and what an Agent is. When do you hire one of these Advisers or Agents?
An Adviser and an Agent are very different in one key area, and that is how they are to be compensated for services. This particular difference is that you can play NCAA hockey one day or not. The difference in payment is the difference between you being considered and amateur player or pro player.
An agent usually works for “future profits”. Future returns are paid by commission or a set fee, but not paid when the services are rendered. Agents will work for future revenues with the players, if they feel that the players “pay” a day in the NHL. One million dollars per year NHL contract is to pay the agent somewhere in the vacinity of fifty thousand dollars per year. For the agent, it is prudent to work to get as many top prospects as possible under contract and hope that some will make NHL each season.
Many times though, the Agent only has time to speak on the phone or visit with the top prospects he is working with. Often it is the player who does not develop as quickly or get the “hype” that is left feeling as though the agent does not care. I see this a lot in major junior hockey.
An Adviser works for a contracted amount of pay. The adviser is paid a certain rate for a certain set of services. Future earnings for the player are not considered in an Adviser agreement. An Adviser must treat every family he works with in the same way. One consistent level of service, under one consistent fee structure.
Advisors can not change to give their fee structure preferred treatment to a player over another player on the basis of athletic ability. This means no discounts to one player over another because he may be seen as a higher level prospect.
The Adviser and the Agent do much of the same type of work. The conversation with the players, teams, coaches and scouts. Presentation of the players the best possible way, the player to the next level.
The NCAA has strict rules against Agents working with NCAA bound athletes. If you’re an amateur player and you want to play NCAA hockey, you can not have an Agent. Yes, I know that in years past the NCAA has turned a blind eye to many Agents saying they are acting as Advisers. If you look now though, nearly every NCAA program asks the student athlete if they are working with an adviser. The USHL asks these questions, and many junior teams in the United States now ask this question. They are asking this question because some schools, junior teams and the NCAA have developed a list of Agents that say they are Adviser when they are not.
The lists are of Agents who tell the player not to worry about payment until after they go pro. This is an Agent relationship. An Adviser will never say this because they know, understand and follow the NCAA rules. Services must be paid for, and pricing of services can not differ from player to player
The NCAA is no longer looking the other way when it comes to Agents. If you are caught not paying for services, you will have to back pay for all services rendered as well as serve a suspension. Is that worth taking the risk?
If you are a Major Junior player looking for advice and can not play NCAA hockey, get an Agent. Get all you can for free. If you are looking to play NCAA hockey, get an Adviser and pay for it. Get caught taking anything for free and prepare for the consequences.