A state judge has struck down one of the most obnoxious rules of the NCAA: a ban on college baseball players hiring lawyers to assist them in discussions with baseball clubs. The NCAA suspended Oklahoma State pitcher Andrew Oliver after her allowed legal advisers to listen to contract negotiations after being drafted by the Minnesota Twins in June 2006. It is amazing that it took so long to strike down this abusive rule that appears designed to maximize the opportunity of these clubs to take advantage of college players.
Erie County Common Pleas Judge Tygh Tone ruled that the NCAA cannot bar access to legal counsel. Under the NCAA rules, a player can hire a lawyer but bar them from negotiations. This is an example of how a dominant party can develop an industry custom or rule through sheer power plays. In Oliver’s case, he was a senior in high school when the Twins came calling at Vermilion High School in Ohio. The Twins forced the suspension because this high school kid brought lawyers who could inform him of his options and rights.
The same thing happened to Jeremy Sowers, now with the Cleveland Indians, after he was suspended for six games at Vanderbilt in 2002 after his representatives talked with the Cincinnati Reds.
The NCAA should be ashamed for such abusive rules, which reinforce concerns over these clubs taking advantage of young players.
Tone previously ruled in favor of this injunctive relief in the Oliver case.