Contract Negotiation Headline Sports Law

Prospective Baseball Student-Athlete Questionnaire

The main reason why last week I wondered whether Karsten Whitson might be in trouble due to reports of his advisor having direct communication with the San Diego Padres, is because while there are much more pressing concerns for the NCAA to worry about in the other sports under its regulatory umbrella, the association continues to devote a substantial amount of time on baseball, and trying to enforce its no-agent rule.  I have heard of players receiving phone calls and emails from NCAA personnel, asking a variety of questions.  For the most part, these players have already been schooled by their advisors into how to answer the questions appropriately without inviting scrutiny towards themselves or their advisors.  Not all players will be so lucky, and I assume that some will unfortunately tip off the NCAA unintentionally, and maybe sacrifice their student-athlete eligibility because of it.

I have been fortunate enough to receive an email that the NCAA has been sending out to its baseball student-athletes titled, NCAA Amateurism Review – Baseball.  Imagine that you are a talented baseball player in college and you receive this email.  Do you answer it with complete honesty?  Do you answer it at all?  How does something like this actually promote the benefits of going to college to high schoolers who are wondering whether they should sign with a team straight out of high school or go to college for a few years first?  In light of the questionnaire, would an advisor ever be crazy enough to have a written agreement with his advisee?

Dear Baseball Prospective Student-Athlete:

This e-mail is being sent to gather initial information from you regarding your request for amateurism certification by the NCAA Eligibility Center.  It is our staff’s understanding that you were selected by a Major League Baseball (MLB) club in the June 2010 Rule 4 Draft and have decided not to sign a professional contract.  Please provide the following information relating to your contact with MLB clubs and your relationship with your advisor:

  1. Provide the name and contact information (e-mail address and phone number) of your advisor.
  2. Is your advisor an attorney?
  3. Did your advisor have any direct communications with any MLB clubs on your behalf?
  4. Did your advisor discuss your signability with any clubs?
  5. Provide a detailed description of the services provided to you by your advisor (for example, discussions regarding your signability number, continuing in school versus signing a professional contract, contract offers, MLB questionnaires, medical history, performance, etc.):
    1. Estimate the number of times you talked with your advisor.
    2. Explain the subject matter of each of your conversations with your advisor.
  6. List all individuals or entities, including MLB clubs, with whom your advisor spoke with on your behalf.
  7. Have you ever agreed with your advisor that he would serve as your agent if you signed a contract with a club or if you are drafted again in the future?
  8. Did your advisor provide anything to you or your family in addition to the services listed above (e.g., meals, transportation to showcases, tryout expenses)?
  9. How much was the fee you paid for your advisor’s services?
  10. What percentage of your signing bonus would your advisor have received had you signed?  (This would have been discussed during your initial meeting(s) with your advisor).
  11. If you have a written agreement with your advisor, please fax a copy of this agreement to 317-968-5103 as soon as possible (attn: Stephen Webb).
  12. If you have a verbal agreement with your advisor, please provide a detailed description of the terms of this agreement.  (What did you and your advisor agree he would do on your behalf?)
  13. Did your advisor talk to the MLB club that drafted you regarding your contract offer?
  14. List all individuals within the MLB organization that drafted you with whom you spoke after the 2010 draft.
  15. Provide the name and contact information (e-mail address and phone number) of your area scout from the team that drafted you.

Please note that NCAA regulations require you to provide complete and accurate information to the NCAA Eligibility Center relating to your amateurism certification request.  Any failure to do so could amount to an NCAA Bylaw 10.1 violation which would negatively affect your eligibility at NCAA institutions.

Please include your name in the subject line of the reply e-mail.

Finally, for the NCAA institutions that have received this e-mail (which was sent as a blast to ensure that the certification reviews began as soon as possible after this year’s signing deadline) – your institution has one or more of the baseball prospects to whom this e-mail is being sent on your active IRLs.  If you would like to know which of your prospects received this e-mail, please feel free to contact the amateurism certification baseball inquiry line at 317/223-0707.

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.