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The NCAA may rethink their preposterous rules regarding amateurs and agents

Apr 6, 2011, 2:06 PM EDT

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I’ve written about this several times before, but let’s sum up: the NCAA has a rule on the book that serves no purpose other than to exploit kids. It’s the no-agents rule, which allows college baseball players to have an “advisor,” but prohibits the advisor from talking to professional teams.

And that’s the case even before the kid goes to college. If, as most promising players are, the kid is drafted out of high school, he can’t have an experienced agent or attorney contact anyone associated with Major League Baseball, even if it isn’t about money.  Can’t talk to a scout to get an opinion as to how he’ll do as an 18 year-old minor leaguer. Can’t talk to the team about their plans for him.  When it comes time for a teenage kid to make a major life choice — college or pros — the NCAA says that you have to go it alone or else you’ve lost eligibility.

This rule had been ruled unlawful by a court in Ohio and Tigers’ prospect Andy Oliver got a $750,000 settlement out of it from the NCAA.  Of course, by virtue of the settlement, the NCAA got to keep the rule on the books and continues to enforce it against amateurs who have the audacity to actually look out for their future interests in an informed and intelligent way.

But what has struck me the most about this rule is not its actual effect, but the sheer arrogance with which the NCAA has enforced it.  Players are way more likely to get smacked if they own up to a simple mistake or misunderstanding of the rule than if they just flat out lie about having an agent.  During the Andy Oliver suit the NCAA was openly contemptuous of the Ohio court in which the case was being heard, ignoring orders and acting as if it couldn’t be bothered by the proceedings. When the judge told them otherwise — and hinted strongly that the NCAA was going to get reamed — the settlement was hastily reached. More recently was the case of James Paxton and the University of Kentucky, where Paxton’s advisor was told by the UK athletic director that “the NCAA made its own rules and could do whatever it wanted,” and that the NCAA investigator “had [Paxton's] life in his hands.” Just obnoxious.

Chilling stuff.  But now, it seems, someone at the NCAA may have woken up. Because in the course of this story talking about the latest enforcement of the no-advisors rule comes this passage:

The NCAA’s man in charge of baseball told college coaches earlier this year that new rules acknowledging baseball’s “unique set of circumstances” could be on the way.

“If I had a kid who was left-handed and threw 95 (mph), I’d like to know what his value would be,” Dennis Poppe, managing director for baseball and football, said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. He didn’t discuss any specific changes.

Because the NCAA has been arbitrary and capricious when it comes to its amateurism rules, penalizing kids for nickel and dime offenses while doing everything it can to make millions and even billions off their free-of-charge athletic talents, I am not going to hold my breath.  But maybe — just maybe — there’s some hope here.

  1. lardin - Apr 6, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    Craig, what if the High School Baseball player is not yet 18 and his parents happen to be attorneys? Are his parents, as his legal guardians not allowed to talk to the scouts? I can not wait for someone to seriously challenge the NCAA…

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Apr 6, 2011 at 3:20 PM

      Oliver did but, as Craig mentioned, because they settled the Judge ruled the case was binding only for Oliver’s situation and not precedence setting*.

      *speaking of which, how the hell is a judge’s ruling not precedence setting? Who gets to make that determination?

      Also:

      Players are way more likely to get smacked if they own up to a simple mistake or misunderstanding of the rule than if they just flat out lie about having an agent.

      Not entirely true here. All the players who were drafted were sent memo’s by the NCAA in which it explicitly asks them if they had an agent and/or lawyer contact the teams to negotiate on their behalf. A few years ago I wondered what would happen if the players lied, then the Dez Bryant situation happened** and he was suspended the entire year. A few players mentioned in the article have been suspended for only 1/3 of the year.

      **Bryant, unsure of what to do, lied to the NCAA about going to Deion Sanders house in the off-season. Sanders had already told the NCAA he hosted a bunch of players, but Bryant lied about being there. He didn’t break a rule by going, but by lying to the NCAA they suspended him his last year at OK State.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 6, 2011 at 4:57 PM

        Lying to the NCAA about a non-violation got Bryant suspended for a year. Lying to the NCAA about a major violation got Jim Tressel five self-imposed games.

  2. Old Gator - Apr 6, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    When the revolution comes, those sons of bitches up at the NCAA will be the first ones lined up against a courtyard wall and shot. Then, of course, there’ll be Scott Walker….

    • ta192 - Apr 6, 2011 at 3:57 PM

      I’ll go along with their being shot, but I do believe they’re pretty far down the list of shootables…

      • Old Gator - Apr 6, 2011 at 4:21 PM

        That’s OK. I have no objection to pitchforking them and bludgeoning them with tire irons instead, then burying the bloodsucking bastards alive, just to save the revolution a little ammunition.

      • cur68 - Apr 6, 2011 at 4:54 PM

        Can I just speak sternly to them? I mean, I’m pretty non-violent, and I don’t even like harsh words on the internet, never mind a virtual tire ironing. I usually save that stuff for punks with Justin Bieber haircuts who eye up my daughter. Now those guys can get lined up against a wall….

      • ta192 - Apr 6, 2011 at 5:22 PM

        OK, first Cur speaks harshly to them, then Gator bludgeons them, then, a couple of weeks later, I’ll shoot ‘em. Maybe we can hire some former Blackwater types to keep them entertained with some waterboarding during the hiatus.

      • cur68 - Apr 6, 2011 at 6:14 PM

        Ok, we got a plan then. I like the Blackwater guys involved. Any good revolutionary enterprise needs incompetent security guard types running around to absorb bullets from The Man. All we need now is a manifesto. Do you guys know a good manifesto writer? They’ve gotta be nuts, like Dalmer nuts, and have writing skills (at least Hemingway-like), and some sort of eccentricity like soaking all day in the tub (he/she will have to pick a different one than the tub; been done). Craig might work, but he’s gotta polish up the crazy a bit.

      • ta192 - Apr 6, 2011 at 7:15 PM

        Kidding? Right? We got the Gator…

      • cur68 - Apr 6, 2011 at 7:31 PM

        Nah, we need him for the iron work. Don’t wanna ruin his hands on the keyboard. RSI is a mo-fo.

  3. Kevin S. - Apr 6, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    The NCAA has been saying for a couple years that they’ll “consider” giving players a cut of the money they make off their likenesses in video games and off of their jerseys that they sell. Yawn. Wake me up when it happens.

    And Craig, the NCAA has more than just *a* rule on the book that serves no purpose other than to exploit kids. More like dozens.

    • heynerdlinger - Apr 6, 2011 at 5:54 PM

      Let’s also not forget that these aren’t even kids. Almost all college students are at least 18.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 6, 2011 at 6:01 PM

        So exploiting them becomes acceptable once they can vote?

      • heynerdlinger - Apr 6, 2011 at 7:28 PM

        Not at all. My point is that these are adults being put into this situation by the NCAA. The idea that they need protection from professional scouts, agents, teams, etc. is ridiculous when you consider that these “kids” would be considered legally capable of making their own decisions in any any other context. (Except at a bar, of course.)

      • Kevin S. - Apr 6, 2011 at 7:46 PM

        Oh, okay. Gotcha.

  4. Tim's Neighbor - Apr 6, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    Unlike most, I’ve feel like the NCAA has made some positive moves since Brand has no longer been in charge. Coaches are starting to get suspended, USC got nailed, Auburn isn’t in the clear, etc. I’m interested to see where this is going.

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