On June 4, 2008, I wrote a piece titled, Let Andy Play. That article and its 51 comments changed this site forever. Andy Oliver, an outstanding pitcher at Oklahoma State University had been suspended by the NCAA because the association found out that at the time Oliver was deciding whether to go to OSU or sign with the Twins out of high school, his advisor, Robert Baratta, had direct communication with the Twins (which was against NCAA rules). I remember talking to Robert Baratta of Baratta Partners, as if it was yesterday. At first, I thought the NCAA had issue with Andy switching advisors from Baratta to Scott Boras, but eventually the truth came out.
A huge lawsuit ensued, and if you are not familiar with the slew of events, I suggest you read through our posts on the subject. A lot was gained by Andy and his attorney, including the voiding of NCAA Bylaw 18.104.22.168, which used to prohibit a lawyer from being present during discussions of a contract offer with a professional organization or have any direct contact (i.e., in person, by telephone or by mail) with a professional sports organization on behalf of the individual. However, that rule now has the force of law behind it once again, now that Andy has settled with the NCAA.
Rick Johnson, Andy’s attorney, believes that it would be a grave mistake for the NCAA to try to enforce that rule, though. In his words,
So the NCAA can continue to act with its typical arrogance and try to continue to deny student-athletes the right to counsel, or it can realize that it will lose 100/100 of any such future lawsuits over this rule, since no court is going to allow the NCAA to regulate lawyers or prohibit nonmember student-athletes from retaining counsel (Can you imagine what would happen if they had a rule that its members couldn’t have counsel when negotiating their media rights?). As has been reported recently, the NCAA has sent out a baseball questionnaire to student-athletes who were drafted, but who did not sign, and this questionnaire goes beyond even the bad-faith the NCAA evidenced towards Andy. No student-athlete legally has to respond to this inquiry, but we’ll see if they are bowed into submission or whether someone decides to challenge this new affront to student-athlete rights.
Oliver settled in turn for $750,000 of consideration. The Settlement Agreement is embedded below.