Colleges Headline Recruiting Sports Law

Round 1 Goes To Andy Oliver

Andy OliverAn Opinion and Judgment Entry has been released by Judge Tygh M. Tone in the Common Pleas Court of Erie County, Ohio.  The case: Andrew A. Oliver vs. National Collegiate Athletic Association, et al.  If the name Andy Oliver does not mean anything to you, take a quick walk through the posts that have been written in the archive.  I have provided the entire Opinion and Judgment Entry below, but if you already know the facts and the allegations made by both parties, you can skip to p.10 and the section titled, Breach of Contract.

Breach of Contract establishes that there is a contractual relationship between the NCAA and its member institutions (universities).  No contract is created between the NCAA and student-athletes once student-athletes sign an LOI or accept a financial aid package.  BUT, an action of breach of contract by a 3rd party can be brought where the parties to a contract intended to benefit the 3rd party.  So if the NCAA and a university are bound to a contract intended to benefit a student-athlete, does that mean that an action of breach of contract by the student-athlete can be brought?  Yessir!

The Good Faith and Fair Dealing section (starting on p. 13) says that NCAA Bylaw, which attempts to limit an attorney’s role in providing legal counsel to a student-athlete, is impossible to enforce and allows for exploitation of the student-athlete by professional and commercial enterprises.  The No Agent Rule was ruled to be unreliable (capricious) and illogical (arbitrary).  No entity, other than that one designated by the state, can dictate to an attorney where, what, how or when he should represent his client.

The actual Judgment Entry states that NCAA Bylaw is void and that NCAA Bylaw 19.7 is overreaching and interrupts with the judicial power of the court system.  The Court reinstated Andy Oliver in good standing immediately and ordered that no further punishment be weighed on him by the NCAA or OSU.  A jury trial will begin on March 31, 2009 to determine if any monetary damages should be granted to Oliver..

Does the Judgment Entry now allow student-athlete advisors to have direct communication with scouts?  At a minimum, can an advisor be in the same room as a student-athlete who is negotiating numbers with a scout?  The Opinion clearly states that the NCAA cannot tell an attorney where, what, how or when he should represent his client, but what about an advisor who is not an attorney?  Will a non-attorney advisor have the same rights as an attorney-advisor?  There are still many questions left to be answered, but for now, it seems like a major victory for Andy Oliver, student-athletes, and athlete-advisors.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

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