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Monday, February 24, 2014
 
The NCAA: Restricting Access to Career Advice

As many of you know, I've been arguing for years that colleges need to provide greater support to those college athletes making the transition to the pros. [Law review article here, Huffington Post article here.] Recently, the Philadelphia Phillies and the NCAA reminded us of the lunacy of the rule prohibiting college athletes from having an agent.
  1. Fact: MLB drafts college juniors and the player has the ability to either a) sign with the team; or b) return to college for their senior year.
  2. Fact: The NCAA allows baseball (and men's ice hockey) players to retain advisors but NOT agents. Accordingly, the NCAA permits the advisor to speak with the player and his family directly, but under no circumstances may the advisor have direct contact with the team (MLB or NHL) that owns the player's rights. 
  3. Fact: The Philadelphia Phillies drafted Oregon State's Ben Wetzler, a pitcher, in the 5th round of the 2013 MLB entry draft. The Phillies had the right to negotiate with Wetzler over the summer, to see if he'd forgo his senior year and sign with their team.  Wetzler declined the Phillies offer and returned to Oregon State.
  4. Fact: The Phillies, after being spurned by Wetzler, turned him into the NCAA for having his advisor speak directly with them.  The NCAA then imposed an eleven game ban on Wetzler--forcing him to miss 20% of his senior season.
I won't write a 10,000 word tome on how the Phillies' actions are deplorable and the NCAA rule is ludicrous.  [Although, let's be crystal clear, THEY ARE.]  I'll just point you to a few articles and, hopefully, allow for others to make my arguments:
Rather than just whining, I'll submit an easy recommendation--allow college athletes the right to have agents. Under what scenario does the NCAA feel that restricting access to competent career advice for college students is the right solution?  And if college athletes are students and not employees, (hmm, where have I heard that argument) shouldn't they be treated as such and allowed counsel when making life altering decisions?





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