A judge in Ohio has struck down an NCAA rule banning amateurs from having advisors who negotiate directly with major league clubs:
Erie County Judge Tygh M. Tone ruled that an N.C.A.A. rule, which renders a student-athlete ineligible for collegiate competition if he or she has a lawyer present during contract negotiations, was illegal because it interfered with an athlete’s right to legal representation.
Tone called the ban “arbitrary and capricious.”
The rule was being contested by Oklahoma State pitcher Andrew Oliver, who was declared ineligible by university officials last May after Oliver’s status became an issue with the N.C.A.A. Oliver, after being drafted out high school, had his lawyer present at negotiations with the Minnesota Twins.
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Baseball draft picks and teams have danced around the rule regarding agents ever since representatives started working with draft picks in the late 1970s. Agents and club officials routinely discuss contract terms for players in varying levels of detail, whether in person, on the phone or via fax and e-mail. In one instance, as negotiations between club officials and a player’s family took place in a hotel room, an agent had an associate listen with a glass up against the wall of an adjoining room.
The whole weird grey area about agents and amateur players has always been weird to me, and this ruling seems to just make sense.