Jun
02

World Series Sleaze

Andy OliverSticking to the theme of baseball (it is MLB Amateur Draft week, after all), could a sports agent be blamed for Oklahoma State’s downfall in this year’s College World Series? It would be too easy to just place blame for an entire team losing a game directly on an agent, but could sleaziness have gone that far…far enough to intervene in an amateur event?

Oklahoma State LHP, Andrew Oliver, is a stud on the mound. In 2006, he was drafted in the 17th round by the Minnesota Twins. He declined joining the Twins organization and instead helped his OSU team break the top 25 college teams in the nation this year with his arm and his heart. In fact, the Sophomore was named Big 12 Player of the Week back in April, after pitching a complete game three-hitter. He was later named to the first-team All-Big 12. This would be the type of guy that a manager wants pitching in an important game that could decide the school’s season. Unfortunately, on May 31, against a strong Wichita State team looking to advance in the CWS, OSU coach Frank Anderson did not have Andy as an option. All because Oliver spoke to someone claiming to be an agent?

The Oklahoma State Cowboys lost the Saturday night game to Wichita State. The result may have been different had the baseball been in Andy Oliver’s left hand. Andy was labeled indefinitely ineligible to perform for the rest of the season, which included yesterday’s day game against TCU and the night match-up against same team from Saturday, Wichita State. OSU won a thriller against TCU, but fell to Wichita State. The team’s season is over…but why?

The whole issue is over whether Andy Oliver had an adviser or an agent. Time to go old-school and reference a post that I wrote back in August of 2006: Agent or Advisor?

Section 12.3.4 of the NCAA Bylaws explicitly allows for adviser panels to exist. Importantly, it states that an adviser can review a proposed professional contract, help in securing tryouts with teams, and even assist a student-athlete with the selection of an agent.

Main benefit of being labeled as an adviser: Your friend (client) can maintain NCAA eligibility – this allows a player considering leaving college early for the pros to return to his/her college team if contract negotiations with a professional team fails. Signing with an actual agent would end friend’s (client’s) college eligibility.

Let me add an additional important item that is sent to college baseball players in a memo titled, NCAA Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft, Agents, and Tryouts:

Question: Am I permitted to have an adviser during this process?

Answer: Yes, provided the adviser does not market you to MLB teams. However, an adviser will be considered an agent if they contact teams on your behalf to arrange private workouts or tryouts.

The Oklahoman wonders, Did Oliver recently drop his adviser, and is this his former adviser’s way of “getting even”?

An inside source tells me that Andy Oliver’s family had an agent advising them while Andy was in high school leading up to the point he was drafted. His family recently started getting advice from a different agent and it ticked the first group off because it became apparent they would not get his signature on a dotted line after his junior year (next year). The first group decided to get even and billed the Oliver family $90,000 for 300+ hours of advice. The family told them to shove it because advice is free and that is how all agents get business. In this case the agent firm decided to get real scummy and turned in an allegation to the NCAA in which they alleged Andy accepted small items of value from them.

If the statement above is true, then yes, sleaziness has gone that far…far enough to intervene in an amateur event. When an agent sticks his nose into a situation and starts to change the landscape of amateur sports, then we as a profession have some serious reforming to do.

  • Mike

    That’s not correct. I have direct knowledge of the situation. Oliver retain a NY based law firm out of high school to assist him with the draft. The firm advised him to turn down 400,000 from the Minnesota Twins. Oliver recently terminated that firm and hired Scott Boras. Boras advised Andy not to pay the legal bill of $113,000. Under NCAA rules, in order to maintain your eligibility, student athletes are required to pay their advisor at his or her normal rate. (NCAA Memo dated October 2, 2007 to all college baseball players) But, what really did the kid in was Boras wrote a letter to the firm on behalf of Andy (NCAA violation). Boras was brazen enough to have done something no representative in their right mind would do. I will send you a copy of the letter if you want. Just give me your fax number.

  • mike

    http://www1.ncaa.org/membership/enforcement/agents/sa_info/2008_MLB_Educational_Document.pdf

    page 3, paragraph 7, last sentence.

    You cannot stiff your advisor under the NCAA rules

  • http://www.sportsagentblog.com Darren Heitner

    I had also heard that the agent that Oliver recently hired was Boras, but I did not have it confirmed. My fax is 954-927-3333.

  • http://www.sportsagentblog.com Darren Heitner

    7. Am I permitted to have an advisor during this process?

    YES, provided the advisor does not market you to MLB teams. However, an advisor will be
    considered an agent if they contact teams on your behalf to arrange private workouts or
    tryouts. Under NCAA regulations, you and your parents are permitted to receive advice from
    a lawyer or other individual concerning a proposed professional sports contract, provided the
    advisor does not represent you directly in negotiations for the contract. In this regard, it is
    permissible for an advisor to discuss with you the merits of a proposed contract and give you
    suggestions about the type of offer you should consider. In order to maintain your eligibility
    at an NCAA school, however, you may not use this advisor as a link between you and the
    professional sports team. Rather, you must view the advisor as an extension of your own
    interests and not as a source to contact a professional team. If you use the advisor as a direct
    contact with a professional team, the advisor shall be considered an agent and you will have
    jeopardized your eligibility at an NCAA school. For example, an advisor may not be present
    during the discussions of a contract offer with a professional team or have any direct contact
    (including, but not limited to, in person, by telephone, e-mail or mail) with the professional
    sports team on your behalf. Finally, it is important to note that in order to maintain your
    eligibility at an NCAA school, if you receive assistance from an advisor, you will be required
    to pay that advisor at his or her normal rate for such services.

    Patiently awaiting your fax.

  • mike

    I’m sending it now. Will you post it for educational purposes?

  • mike

    The Boras letter should be posted for all parents and kids to see. What a dummy! Asleep at the wheel. Its about time he takes a hit on the amateur side of baseball.

  • http://SportsAgentBlog.com bruce

    First of all, why would a $113,000 bill be legitimate just for advising right before the 2006 draft on whether to sign or not? After that point, there is nothing to “advise” about to bill for until shortly before the 2009 draft in Olivers case. $113,000 seems really gouging. Also, is the Mike in these comments the Mike that is friends with the first advisor group who got fired (and I wonder what the reason was for that) , who is an investment advisor with Merrill Lynch and stands to get business from and profit from any clients of that first advisor group?

  • http://www.sportsagentblog.com Darren Heitner

    I have received numerous phone calls regarding this matter from attorneys and journalists at major papers. I have not sent the fax off to anybody or said anything about its contents. I have tried to contact “mike” numerous times, but have not received a response yet. I will not post the fax until I speak to mike in further depth about this issue.

  • mike

    Bruce. You do not know the facts. It was more than advising. Lawyers get paid. And sometime they have to sue to get paid. Agents get paid if they spend enough time blowing a guy. You sound like one of them.

  • http://SportsAgentBlog.com bruce

    Mike, touchy touchy. Nothing personal. I happen to be an attorney (no agent work) who works in the area of antitrust and have worked on numerous cases in the world of sports. So, I understand lawyers get paid. My point is, why was there 300 hours of “lawyering” to give some advice prior to the 2006 draft, and then nothing else to really bill for until shortly before the 2009 draft in this case. And also, if this bill was legitimate, why is it being sent out NOW, two years after all of this lawyering?

  • mike

    Bruce: You are clearly not familiar with the climate and process. You act as though these kids call up there lawyer and say, “i’ve been offered 400,00, should I sign”. There is an education for the player of his value before and after the draft. Counsel is ongoing and consistent. In this case, I have direct knowledge that there are phone records, travel records and work product that make the 113,000 seem like a discount. It will bear itself out in the legal process. Don’t jump to conclusions. And, who is Mike from Merrill Lynch?

  • Jim

    Mike: Everything you’ve described comes under “advise” but I’m sure your case is different from the thousands of player/agent relationships that have come previously.

    You’re doing your profession a huge disservice and hopefully will be exiting it after this fiasco.

  • mike

    Jim:

    You sound like every other agent that is afraid of Boras. I was not Andy’s advisor. I know them though. I think they are doing the business a great service. Get in the real world and you will find that Scott Boras is not someone to fear.

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