An agent tried to persuade kicker Russell Erxleben to quit school after his junior season and play professionally in the Canadian Football League, Texas Coach Fred Akers disclosed here yesterday.
Erxleben declined, played his senior season with the Longhorns and was selected in the first round of the National Football League draft May 3 by the New Orleans Saints.
Erxleben now is being represented by Michael Lance Trope of Los Angeles who created a controversy last week in a Sports Illustrated magazine article when he reportedly said he got college players to sign "offer sheets" to have him represent them before their college eligibility expired.
He also was reported as saying he loaned money to 34 players and is suing 14 for failing to live up to their agreements and/or engaging other agents.
Trope, according to Sports Illustrated, said he had to sign collegians prematurely to compete with other agents. "Trope also says that in his efforts to recruit pro prospects," the magazine wrote, he repeatedly encountered assistant (college coaches who were steering players to other agents - for a finder's fee.
"I decided I wasn't going to pay off any coach," Trope was quoted.
Akers said he would "like to know who those coaches are. I know of high school coaches who accept money to steer players to colleges," he added, but would not name any.
"Some agents are creeps - I'm not saying all of them - it's like in anything else," Akers said.
"Trope represented Earl Campbell, Brad Shearer and Alfred Jackson from our team when they turned pro and they all spoke well of him. I usually ask some NFL people I know about an agent if my players seek advice.
"I don't want any agent tampering with one of our players, or our team. I chased an agent out of one of our players' rooms when I was coaching at Wyoming."
Akers was asked if an agent had signed a Texas player prematurely last season or had loaned him money as part of an arrangement.
"I hope not, but it could happen without me knowing," he replied.
Akers said he learned about the offer to Erxleben after the 1977 season because Gil Brandt of the Dallas Cowboys telephoned him and said a fellow from British Columbia with an office in Seattle was informing several NFL clubs that he represented Erxleben and several other prominent college players.
Akers said Erxleben admitted talking to the agent, but reported to Akers had told the agent he was not interested in playing professionally at that time or in being represented by the agent.
Akers said he learned the agent's name (which he did not have available yesterday) and demanded that the man write letters to pro clubs saying that he did not represent Erxleben.
Akers said he also demanded copies of the letters that were sent to the NFL clubs, and received them.