World Series Sleaze
Sticking 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.