- An athlete shall be ineligible if he or even his relatives or friends accept transportation or other benefits from any prospective agent.3 The NCAA has held that this applies even if the agent has indicated that he is not interested in representing the athlete.
- Despite these restrictions, an athlete may secure advice from a lawyer (or other person) concerning a professional contract but the lawyer cannot represent the athlete in negotiations for such contract.4 This means that a player’s advisor cannot be present during the discussion of a contract offer with a professional team or have any direct contact with the team, whether in person, by telephone, by facsimile, by email or by mail.5 If a player’s advisor violates this rule, the advisor is considered to be an agent, thereby jeopardizing the player’s eligibility.
- The punishment for a violation of these rules can range from reimbursement of benefits received to suspension for a few games to permanent ineligibility. Each case is reviewed independently and the NCAA relies on precedent in determining the appropriate punishment.
- On May 22, 2000, the NCAA announced a decision regarding a college baseball player who accepted transportation valued at $81.60 and $6 from an agent’s runner on two different occasions. The player’s school required the player to repay the value of the transportation to a charity and suspended the player for four games. The NCAA held that the appropriate punishment was to suspend the player for 10% of the team’s season (five games) and for him to repay the money to charity.6
- In 2002, the NCAA declared Jeremy Sowers ineligible for the first six games of his collegiate career after finding that Sowers had committed a minor infraction because his advisor had direct contact with the Cincinnati Reds.
- In 2008, the NCAA suspended Andy Oliver during the NCAA Regionals after his former advisor purportedly revealed to the NCAA that he had direct contact with the team that drafted Oliver out of high school. The trial court restored Oliver’s eligibility and held that the NCAA rule preventing advisors from having direct contact with teams was illegal. However, the NCAA paid Oliver $750,000 to settle the case and as part of the settlement the court order was vacated. READ JEFF BLANK’S ANALYSIS ON THE ANDY OLIVER DECISION
- In 2009, the NCAA sent out questionnaires to college players who had been drafted the previous year, asking them if they used an advisor and if the advisor had direct contact with the team. Kentucky withheld James Paxton from play because the NCAA wanted to question him about a published report that his advisor had direct contact with the Blue Jays. Paxton sought an injunction against Kentucky that would have forced Kentucky to allow him to play without submitting to an NCAA interview. The injunction was denied, and Paxton left Kentucky.
- In 2011, the NCAA suspended Wichita St. Albert Minnis for 50 percent of the 2011 season because the advisor he used for the 2010 draft when he was selected by the Atlanta Braves out of high school purportedly initiated two phone calls and four text messages with Braves’ scout after the draft about when Minnis would pitch and how he performed when he did pitch. The Braves apparently never even made an offer to Minnis and Minnis was unaware of the contact.
- Also in 2011, the NCAA suspended Nebraska freshman Logan Ehlers for 60 percent of the 2011 season, because his advisor purportedly had brief contact in the Cape Cod League with a Toronto Blue Jays’ scout. The World-Herald Newspaper in Omaha reported that the NCAA may have picked up on articles where Ehlers’ father stated that the advisor had contact with clubs.
Thus, while advisors continue to have direct contact with Clubs to protect the interests of their clients, if a player answers the NCAA questionnaire honestly by acknowledging that his advisor had direct contact with the Club, or if an article is published that mentions direct contact between the Club and advisor, the advisor’s client could be suspended.
Articles Related To NCAA Questionnaire:
NCAA cracks down on baseball advisers
NCAA Questionnaire Signals A New Crackdown
Agents, union question NCAA memo on baseball advisers
1NCAA bylaw 12.3.1
2NCAA Staff, item 1-a, 12/16/92.
3NCAA bylaw 18.104.22.168
4NCAA bylaw 12.3.2
5NCAA bylaw 22.214.171.124
6See Case ID: 13948, Elig Case ID: 18479