Monday, October 12, 2009

Advisers in college baseball necessary to help players

The NCAA’s effort to crack down on advisers in college baseball is intriguing, yet enigmatic.

Advisers are agents who often times walk a tightrope to follow the bylaws while at the same time represent players taken in the annual baseball draft. From what I’ve gathered during interviews, Major League teams often prefer negotiating with advisers than family.

At the heart of the matter is the NCAA’s frustration that Oklahoma State pitcher Andy Oliver sued the NCAA and won after being declared ineligible for having an adviser in the room when offered a contract.

It is part of the reason the NCAA Eligibility Center circulated a questionnaire draft choices who did not sign, proposing firmer supervision of advisers.

At UNC-Wilmington, pitchers Daniel Cropper and freshman Blaze Tart turned down offers. Neither has received the questionnaire, but if they do, they should decline to participate.

Baseball America ran a sample form, with questions such as, did your adviser have any direct communication with any MLB clubs on your behalf, and, did your adviser discuss your signability with any clubs?

To answer is intrusive, and possibly incriminating.

Cropper told me was unaware of a questionnaire, and besides, his father is a lawyer in Maryland and looked over an offer made by the Washington Nationals.

“You really have to know sports contracts and what you are getting into,’’ Cropper said. “It is nice to have someone to lay it out in layman’s terms.’’

Allan Simpson of Perfect Game Cross Checker was stunned it took nearly 15 years for the NCAA to clarify between agent and adviser. He also questioned the timing and thinks baseball is being singled out because of excessive signing bonuses.

He quickly points out – and I concur – that players, like any citizens, are entitled to legal counsel. Simpson, and Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, mentioned that big league teams retain attorneys, giving the appearance of a double standard, and players deserve the same fair representation. And Seahawks coach Mark Scalf thinks it is virtually impossible to enforce non-contact between teams and advisers.

Roy Clark, scouting director for the Atlanta Braves, told me he received emails from Stephen Webb, the NCAA associate director of amateurism certification, and told him his scouts only dealt with families and the two players in question, with no advisers present.

Fred Wray, a former UNCW pitcher, is an agent who insists the NCAA is putting in safeguards to protect players from sanctions.

“There are underhanded guys out there trying to make a quick buck off players and do things the wrong way and compromise the players future,’’ Wray said. “To put a player in jeopardy with the NCAA of being ineligible would not only be a disservice to their family, but the player’s career as well.’’

This is a hot button topic, so stay tuned.

Staff writer Chuck Carree can be reached at 343-2262 or


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