NBA agent makes 'unprecedented' decision to walk away amidst college basketball scandal

Andy Miller (L), agent at heart of FBI college hoops probe, can no longer represent NBA players. (Getty)
Andy Miller (L), agent at heart of FBI college hoops probe, can no longer represent NBA players. (Getty)

In a rare move that highlights the reverberations of the federal investigation into college basketball recruiting, controversial NBA agent Andy Miller relinquished his agent certification on Wednesday. In an email, the NBA Players Association announced the decision that Miller is effectively stepping down as an NBA agent and is “no longer permitted to represent NBA players in contract negotiations.”

Miller is best known for representing former NBA stars Chauncey Billups and Kevin Garnett. While Miller’s power and client list has faded in recent years, his company, ASM Sports Management, is listed as the seventh biggest in the NBA and includes clients Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and Kristaps Porzingis.

“For someone who is as prominent as Andy Miller to walk away,” said a veteran agent, “is unprecedented.”

While the messaging from the NBA Players Association makes it appear that Miller walked away, the common belief in the NBA agent world is that he’d been pushed out. Miller is linked to the federal investigation of college basketball recruiting because he employed Christian Dawkins, one of the 10 men arrested in September in relation to the scandal, as a runner to help obtain clients. Federal officials also executed an exhaustive search of Miller’s office on Sept 26, the same day of the sweep of arrests. Miller has not formally been tied to the investigation.

Miller publicly fired Dawkins after it came out that he’d run up more than $40,000 on the credit card NBA player Elfrid Payton without permission. Miller drew the ire of the Players Association when he essentially kept Dawkins on his payroll after announcing his firing, including allowing him to be in the Green Room for the NBA draft. It was another of the moves that made Miller among the most polarizing figures in the business, as he held little regard for authority.

Miller has had numerous public brushes both in the courts and with the NCAA, as he’s long been perceived as one of the most brazen actors in a cutthroat industry where duplicity and under-the-table payments have long been an accepted part of doing business.

“My reaction [to Miller’s departure] is that most of us have known about all this,” said veteran agent Keith Glass, who won an arbitration hearing against Miller after a lengthy legal dispute over a client. “It’s not like I feel happy. This is a nasty business. There’s nothing to feel happy or excited about. I shake my head he was allowed to go on like this for so long.”

Miller has lost at least six clients since the scandal broke in late September, including first-round pick Justin Patton. But the question looms in the agent world as to whether Miller can formally step away from the business and still run his agency behind the scenes.

Miller is not technically the owner of ASM sports, as he’s the president and founder. But it’s owned by a company out of Europe called YouFirst Sports. Miller was still listed on the company’s website on Wednesday afternoon. They did not respond to an email seeking comment.

ESPN reported on Wednesday that many of Miller’s former clients are expected to remain with other agents in the company. The most valuable among that group is perhaps Porzingis, a budding superstar who promises to be one of the NBA’s most dominant players for the next decade.

“It will be interesting to see how they structure things at ASM going forward,” said a second veteran NBA agent. “And if he continues to be an agent without being certified.”

The NBA Players Association has long developed a reputation for being apathetic in policing its agents. The Miller move is considered unusual, as veteran agents could only recall a handful of agents who’ve been decertified, voluntarily or otherwise, over the years.

“The union will try and somehow take credit for this,” Glass said. “They really don’t deserve any credit here.”

According to Hoops Hype, Miller is responsible for nearly $150 million in NBA salaries. The industry is watching how those get distributed to other agents in the company or elsewhere. “This is Andy Miller,” said another veteran agent. “He’s been a staple for a long time. This should reverberate around the industry.”