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Tank Out Of Service 3 Years?

The NFL Players Association proposed to strip sports agent William "Tank" Black's license for three years Tuesday after determining his company made improper cash payments to college players.

The penalty will take effect if an arbitrator agrees with the NFLPA disciplinary committee's decision. Black has 20 days to seek arbitration. From there, arbitrator Roger Kaplan would have about 45 days to hold a hearing.

The NFLPA filed a disciplinary complaint against Black in May, accusing his company, Professional Management Inc., of making improper payments to former players at Florida, LSU and South Carolina.

The investigation centered on alleged payments to former Florida players Jevon Kearse, Johnny Rutledge and Reggie McGrew. Rutledge has gone public with a statement admitting he took money. All three players have submitted sworn affidavits stating the same.

The NFLPA disciplinary committee, which consists of players Richard Harvey, Trace Armstrong and Robert Smith, read through the 200-page response to the complaint that Black submitted earlier this month. The committee also held a four-hour telephone conference to hear his side of the story Monday.

The committee decided to propose revoking Black's license for three years and forcing him to pay a $25,000 fine when he reapplies.

The penalty is designed to inflict a severe blow to Black's 11-year-old business, in which he represents about 40 professional athletes, the vast majority of them in the NFL.

"Clubs can't deal with someone who isn't certified by the NFLPA," NFLPA attorney Richard Berthelsen said. "If the penalty is upheld, he can't talk to club personnel about a player's contract. If he is being hired for that service, most players are going to find somebody else."

Black, however, insists his company will remain viable if the penalty is upheld, with a company attorney doing the direct contract negotiations.

Since the allegations surfaced, all of Black's clients besides Kearse, McGrew, Rutledge and former Gator Mike Peterson have remained with him. NBA star Vince Carter signed a multi-year contract extension with Black this month.

"PMI is a larger organization than just Tank Black," said spokesman Michael Butler. "It's a thriving business and it will continue to thrive."

A statement released from PMI said the decision was "highly predictable" considering the way the process has progressed.

"It is what one would expect from a blatantly unfair process that has been characterized by vague charges, innuendo, speculation and a reckless disregard for the facts," the statement read.

The statement said Harvey was only present for 20 minutes of the nearly four-hour phone conversation.

"His abbreviated appearance is further evidence of a total lack of objectivity and closed-minded approach exhibited by the NFLPA in this matter from the beginninof the process," the statement said.

Berthelsen said Harvey was present for more than 20 minutes, but not for the entire phone conversation. He said Black and his attorney, Leonard Mungo, asked for a postponement of the telephone conference to Monday and knew some training camps would be underway.

"Richard was fully aware of the entire answer submitted in the case and all the information transmitted yesterday," Berthelsen said. "Since the call was so lengthy, he had to leave to attend required activity at training camp."

Black also filed a lawsuit against the NFLPA, accusing the union of an unfair disciplinary process. A judge dismissed it Monday, but Black re-filed it Tuesday with additional counts.

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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