NCAA too Strict?

A recent case involving an Oklahoma State pitcher and the NCAA has once again demonstrated the problems with NCAA rules and how they hurt more than help student athletes. The case involves Any Oliver, who was the second round pick of the Detroit Tigers in the most recent Major League Baseball amateur draft. Oliver was a highly touted prospect coming out of high school, and was actually selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 2006 draft. Oliver hired Tim Baretta of Icon Sports Group to help with contract negotiations at the time he was selected by the Twins. Baretta was present during the negotiation with the team, which turned out to be in violation of NCAA Bylaw that states “ a lawyer may not be present during discussions between a student-athlete and a professional team or have any direct contact (in person, by telephone or by mail) with a professional sports organization on behalf of a student-athlete.” Oliver decided not to sign with the Twins and decided to pitch for Oklahoma State instead. During his time there, Oliver decided to change agents and sign with the Boras Corporation. Subsequently, angered by the change in agency, Icon disclosed their relationship with Oliver to the NCAA. As a result, Oliver was suspended for a year (usual suspension is to take away all eligibility), which was eventually reduced to 70% of one season. Oliver then went on to challenge the decision in the state court of Ohio where he was granted injunctive relief and the suspension was nullified. The state court of Ohio determined that the NCAA bylaw was arbitrary and capricious and that it limits the players’ ability to effectively negotiate a contract. This was a big ruling against the NCAA, however they said that they would stand by the bylaw and that it still applied to student-athletes in the other 49 states. Oliver continued with a case that sued the NCAA for damages, but the NCAA settled out of court for $750,000. As part of the settlement, the NCAA bylaw would continue to be upheld in all 50 states. Oliver agreed to the settlement because the NCAA said that they would just keep appealing the case and tie it up in courts for years. To me, this is just another case of the NCAA bullying student-athletes and using rules that do more harm than good. There is no way for the NCAA to police all student-athletes who may be negotiating contracts as to whether they have had a lawyer present or not. The only way the NCAA finds out is if someone turns the player in, as Icon Sports Group did. Eighteen-year-old kids and their parents cannot be expected to negotiate contracts with professional teams. Also, it is foreseeable that more athletes will change their mind like Oliver did and decide to attend school as opposed to turning pro. Again, someone who is only eighteen does not necessarily know exactly what they want to do with their lives. Having a lawyer present to protect a student-athlete should not mean that the athlete loses his or her amateur status. The NCAA needs to take a step-back and look at how they can better help the athlete instead of sticking to rules that are outdated. The bylaw is ridiculous and cannot be policed. Amateur status should only be taken away once an athlete actually turns professional. The NCAA has to consider the student-athlete.