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Case Study: Karsten Whitson’s Decision Not To Sign With The Padres

The NCAA requires that a player selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft pay his advisor at his or her normal rate for such services if the player hopes to maintain his eligibility at an NCAA school.  Thus, if Troy Caradonna of SFX was to follow that rule, which many people say goes ignored by quite a few baseball advisors, Caradonna could have expected to earn quite a bit of money based on Karsten Whitson’s signing bonus.  Whitson was selected #9 overall in the 2010 Draft by the San Diego Padres.  An offer of $2.1 million was not enough to convince Whitson to go pro out of high school instead of attend my alma mater, the University of Florida.

Soon after the signing deadline passed, Padres owner, Jeff Moorad, stated that he was disappointed that Caradonna first gave the team a number concerning what was needed to sign Whitson only 15 minutes prior to the deadline.  Moorad said that he felt sorry for Whitson and felt that he was misled by Caradonna.  But maybe Moorad should not feel that bad for Whitson.  Apparently, Whitson’s decision is working out for the best (although maybe not the best from the Padres standpoint).

Baseball advisors have the very difficult task of advising their clients whether they should take the offer presented by the drafting team or forgo the offer and go to college.  It is very rare to see a high pick like Whitson decline an offer in excess of $1 million, but no two players are the same.  Players come from different socio-economic backgrounds, have different levels of physical and psychological development, and have different needs and desires.  As reported by Yahoo!’s Kendall Rogers, Whitson flat out did not think he was ready for pro ball and wanted to play baseball for the Florida Gators.  I’ll take a stab at it and assume that his family is not hurting for money.

Whitson might not make $2.1 million again in 2013, which is the first year that he will once again be eligible to be selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft, but maybe that is not such a big concern to him.  Three years from now, he will hopefully have received a good education, excellent training, and had the chance to mature and become a great professional athlete.  His arm could blow out before then, but maybe he is the type of man who thinks there will be other opportunities out there for him should the unfortunate occur.

None of us can comment on whether it was a good or bad decision, because it was a personal decision that was unique to Karsten Whitson.  These decisions must be made on a case-by-case basis; there is no objective answer based on money and slot alone.  That is why having a competent advisor to help out is so very important.  I hope that Whitson is happy with his decision; he is the only person that he has to please.

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.