Top Stories of 2010, No. 8: Soenksen admits to taking money from agent while at UCLA

When sports agent Josh Luchs detailed his years providing college athletes with prohibited monetary gifts to Sports Illustrated, the October report sent shock waves around the country, reigniting debates over the regulation of agents and athlete compensation.

San Luis Obispo County was no different.

As it turned out, one of the athletes to receive money from Luchs was former Arroyo Grande High standout Matt Soenksen, who said he received $200 monthly payment to supplement the scholarship he received as an offensive lineman at UCLA.

Lettering from 1992 to 1995, Soenksen — who went on to coach football for the Eagles and more recently served as head coach of track and field at Nipomo — said he repaid Luchs and that he treated the payments like student loans.

Acknowledging that he broke rules, Soenksen’s reasoning centered on his critique of the system.

Scholarship stipends, as well as restrictions limiting the ways amateur athletes can make additional money, are not enough compensation for the athletes being used to market universities for profit, Soenksen said.

Some look at opportunistic agents as the problem, especially after rule-breaking agents led to harsh punishment of USC football for gifts accepted by Reggie Bush when he was playing for the Trojans.

California nearly passed a bill over the summer that would have required agents to apply for a credential with the state, and the law would have provided an avenue for universities or college athletes to sue agents who did not comply with regulations.

More stringent than the current laws governing sports agents, the legislation ­was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wrote that the bill would have created unnecessary cost to an already financially unstable state.

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