Agents and their relationship to usc is a recurring theme in the NCAA report. Here’s the required changes discussed on page 63: "Particular emphasis should be placed on monitoring of agents and their associates in their interaction with prospective student-athletes and student-athletes, monitoring student-athlete employment, monitoring access to facilities used by student-athletes for practice and competition, monitoring student-athlete activities involving prospective student-athletes on official visits, student-athlete automobile information, and student-athlete housing."
Southern cal has a Professional Sports Counseling Panel which failed to address this issue. It is part of the compliance program at southern cal. One member of the panel is Joe Mendes who is President of Cornerstone Sports Consulting who is also a fulltime usc employee.
What does Cornerstone Sports Consulting do--that's after the jump.
The Cornerstone Sports Consulting website says: "Cornerstone IS NOT A SPORTS AGENCY, but is a consulting firm made up of a team of experienced sports professionals who understand the student-athlete’s need for proper career education and guidance." ) And the assistance provided by Cornerstone Sports Consulting includes providing guidance concerning agent selection: "Cornerstone Sports Consulting will assist the student-athlete and his family through the agent recruiting process, and continue that assistance by bringing experience and structure to the agent interviews and ultimately a plan and method for their agent selection." The Cornerstone Sports Consulting Website expressly states, "Cornerstone does NOT recommend agents." Also, Cornerstone Sports Consulting assists the school in implementing a "complete NFL draft preparation program" which includes strength conditioning.
The cost to a student athlete—according to a Washington Times article on the Cornerstone Sports Consulting Website: "Mendes sidesteps the intense recruiting pitches of some agents. He’s an advisor who’s paid a flat five-figure fee instead of a percentage of the player’s contract. Mendes may be going after the same kids the Leigh Steinbergs and Drew Rosenhauses are seeking, but he can go through "the front door." And what is the NCAA’s response to Mendes’s financial relationships with future NFL players: "An NCAA spokesman said it met with Mendes and saw no problem with his company. Not a glowing tribute, but in translation that means Mendes passed the smell test."
One of Cornerstone Sports Consulting’s biggest boosters is none other than noted ethics expert who is in his next to last year as a NFL coach, pete carroll, who says, according to its website: ‘"Joe is a tremendous asset and resource for our players,’ Coach Pete Carroll said. ‘He links our players with cutting-edge information and preparation methods.’ [¶] Carroll raves about Mendes, saying he offers players ‘the maximum opportunities when they go to the NFL,’ including counsel on the NFL Combine, choosing an agent and other Draft preparation. . . . [¶] ‘He serves as a connection for a player and his family to the next level and really prepares them for what’s ahead,’ Carroll said."
The executive vice president of Cornerstone Sports Consulting is an experienced Washington D.C.-area marketing and creative development guru, Jon Enten. And Enten is also the Vice President of Frost Miller Group in suburban Washington D.C. But Enten is also experienced in sports marketing, again according to the Cornerstone Sports Consulting website: "Jon’s work with sports organizations and players has included campaigns with Brad Johnson, Sonny Jurgensen, Darrell Green, Patrick Ramsey as well as work with organizations including ProServ, the Washington Capitals, the Washington Bullets (Wizards) and Georgetown University Basketball."
So what does all this mean. Southern cal has as a full time employee and experienced NFL executive whose company utilizes a Washington D.C. area marketing expert to market student athletes and "assist" but "not recommend" agents. Despite the fact Mendes is a fulltime sc employee, he charges his clients a five figure salary. Even though he is a southern cal full time employee, Mendes works for other schools including Alabama.
This is but a symptom of the southern cal blind spot when it comes to the presence of agents, handlers and runners on campus. I suspect Mendes provides a valuable service to kids who want to turn pro. But styling himself as a consultant employed full time by sc who assists players in agent selection is a distinction without a real difference that is part of the problem that has gotten them in the place where they are.