To think that the actions of a few attorney agents could be behind the indefinite suspension of Oklahoma State pitcher, Andy Oliver, makes me sick to my stomach. After speaking with various sources on the matter and receiving some interesting documents, I now provide you with a clear picture of the entire situation.
Andrew Oliver had just finished his senior year at Vermilion High School in Ohio. He posted an impressive record of 6-0, but even more worthy of praise was his 0.40 ERA. Add in 108 strikeouts in 52.7 innings, and you have a prime prospect for the MLB Amateur Draft. Robert Baratta definitely thought so.
Like many players looking to get drafted tomorrow and Friday in the MLB Amateur Draft, Andy picked an advisor to help guide him in making a decision to accept the offer presented by the team that would pick him, or decline it and attend college to improve his stock. The advisor selected was Robert Baratta of the New York law firm Baratta Partners. Oliver had heard of Mr. Baratta through his one-time Cincinnati AAU teammate, Cameron Maybin, who is on the Florida Marlins 40-man roster, and is a current client of Baratta’s. Andy was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 17th round, but Baratta advised him to decline the offer and to go college instead. Barrata continued to advise Andrew Oliver on selecting an institution of higher education. Andy eventually chose to accept a scholarship at Oklahoma State and retained Baratta as his advisor.
Baratta claims that when Andrew Oliver first selected Robert Baratta as his advisor, Andy had orally agreed to an engagement letter with Baratta Brothers which said that Andy would owe the NY firm $350 per hour of service provided. Baratta additionally claims that based on such rate, Andy racked up a legal bill of $113,000. As an October 2, 2007 Memorandum from the NCAA states,
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.
This should be a lesson to all players who plan on taking on an advisor: fully understand what you are getting yourself into. Some advisors are content with taking a percentage off the top of a player’s signing bonus. Others, like Baratta, charge an hourly fee. All of my agreements propose that Dynasty take a percentage of a player’s signing bonus, but no flat hourly fee is accrued. That does not mean that a law firm is prevented from entering into such an arrangement with a client. Andy may have to take a hit by formerly agreeing to such terms, but he should not have to sit out any more college games.
On March 31, 2008, Andy Oliver decided he wanted out. He terminated his advisory relationship with Baratta and selected Boras Corp as its replacement. The NCAA is currently investigating the methods used by Boras Corp to persuade Andy to switch advisors and whether any Oklahoma state law was violated in the process. When Andrew Oliver switched advisors, Baratta came after Andy for the money that the attorney-advisor believed he rightfully deserved.
Andrew Oliver believed and continues to feel that he does not owe Robert Baratta the $113,000 that has been sought after. Instead of personally responding to Mr. Baratta, attorneys at Boras Corp sent the New York based agent a letter which reads,
Re: Collection Matter: Andrew Oliver, File No. 1080
Dear Mr. _________
We are in receipt of your letter to Mr. Andrew Oliver dated March 31, 2008. Please call our office at __________________ at your earliest convenience to discuss.
George Vujovich (Attorney) Ryan Lubner (Attorney)
Name and phone number left out to protect parties involved.
The above information contains everything in the fax that commentator, mike, sent me. His belief is that Scott Boras and Boras Corp did something to violate the NCAA Rules, which are laid out in the October 2, 2007 Memorandum.
12. Is an agent allowed to provide me any benefits?
NO! You, your family, or your friends are not permitted to receive any benefits from an agent. Examples of material benefits include money, transportation, dinner, clothes, cell phones, jewelry, etc. However, benefits may also include, but are not limited to, activities such as tryout arrangements with a professional team and coordinating tryout schedules.
By sending the letter to Barrata, did Boras Corp’s attorneys violate this paragraph? Commentator, mike, ardently says, yes. The claim is that Boras Corp does not routinely delve into normal collection matters. Personally, I do not believe that sending a letter on behalf of someone that you advise is a material benefit, but even if it were, who says that Andy will not pay for the service that was provided? Obviously, you can bill the client that you advise after the fact. That is what this whole controversy is about…whether or not Andy Oliver should have to pay $113,000 for services that Baratta provided earlier in their relationship. Did Andy agree to the engagement agreement? Did Boras Corp violate NCAA rules? A lawsuit and NCAA investigation will determine both matters.
So here we are left to wonder how Andrew Oliver got himself in the middle of this huge mess. The kid is ridiculously talented on the mound. He impressed scouts in high school and was drafted fairly high by the Twins. He led OSU to the NCAA Tournament and the team was counting on him to give a few more solid starts in an effort to advance to Omaha. But the firing of an advisor, the hiring of another, and a $113,000 bill got in the way of an amateur’s dream, and his teammates and university ended up paying the price. In the end, who wins? I beg that the NCAA scrap Andrew Oliver’s indefinite suspension and I hope that young players and their families take away some useful information from this messy situation.
Let Andy Play.