SBD/Issue 197/Collegiate Sports

OSU P Andy Oliver Files Suit Against NCAA, Former Advisor

Oliver Suing NCAA,
Former Advisor
Andy Oliver, the Oklahoma State Univ. pitcher who was declared ineligible earlier this year, has filed suit against his former advisor and the NCAA, asking a judge to issue an injunction restoring his eligibility to compete. The suit, filed late last month in state court in Erie County, Ohio, states that actions by his former advisors and the NCAA damaged Oliver, including costing him the opportunity to play in and win a College Regional, Super Regional, or College World Series. The lawsuit asks for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. Oliver, OSU’s ace, was declared ineligible in late May, hours before he was to pitch in an NCAA regional tournament, and after his former advisor, Robert Baratta submitted a bill for $113,775 to him for services rendered. Baratta submitted the bill after Oliver, one of the best college pitchers in the country, fired him and hired powerful baseball agent Scott Boras as his advisor.

LAWSUIT DETAILS: The lawsuit alleges breach of contract and tortious interference with Oliver’s contract with OSU by the NCAA. The lawsuit alleges the NCAA never gave Oliver due process before suspending him; failed to take into account Oliver’s defenses to charges never presented to him; failed to complete its investigation before suspending him; and used Oliver’s attorney-client privileged information, that was illegally obtained, against him. “We are not aware of the lawsuit and do not have any comment,” an NCAA spokesman said in an e-mail last night. The lawsuit also alleges breach of contract, constructive fraud, negligence and defamation against Oliver’s former advisors -- Baratta and his partner and brother Tim Baratta -- and their company, Baratta Partners. “It is a wholly frivolous piece of litigation,” said Andrew Entwistle, attorney for the Barattas. “The Baratta brothers and Baratta Partners are directly responsible only for Andy Oliver being able to have the opportunity to play professional ball and realize his full potential as an athlete. He does owe them for the time they put in over the years.”

BARATTAS DENY TURNING OLIVER IN: The Barattas advised Oliver to turn down a $400,000 signing bonus offered to him by the Twins after he was drafted, out of high school in the 17th round of the '06 amateur draft. Robert Baratta has previously told SportsBusiness Journal that he did not turn Oliver into the NCAA, but cooperated with NCAA investigators, including writing them a letter, after they contacted him about the situation. But Richard Johnson, Oliver’s attorney, said Baratta did turn Oliver in by writing a May 19 letter to NCAA Dir of Agent, Gambling & Amateurism Activities Rachel Newman Baker. In that letter, a copy of which is an exhibit in the lawsuit, Baratta alleges that Oliver told him that the Scott Boras Corp. offered him baseball equipment and private pitching lessons. A Scott Boras Corp. official declined comment. Johnson said claims that Boras or Boras Corp. employees offered Oliver equipment and lessons were “fraudulent” and “made up.” Johnson said the letter was part of his defamation claim against the Barattas.

ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE? Johnson said the NCAA should never have used the letter or statements by Robert Baratta as part of its investigation because it is attorney-client privileged. “To this date, the NCAA has not sent a ‘Dear Andy’ letter, saying you are alleged to have done A, B, and C,” Johnson said. “That is unconscionable. The players have no rights in this whole process.” The lawsuit states, “Apparently there is no written document evidencing the Defendant NCAA’s indefinite suspension of (Oliver).” An OSU official told Oliver that he was declared ineligible because the Baratta brothers made contact with the Twins after he was drafted and Tim Baratta was present at a meeting when a Twins executive tendered a professional contract, the lawsuit states. A Twins official did not immediately return a phone call for comment.

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