SBD/May 20, 2011/Colleges

NCAA Looking At Allowing Players More Access To Representation

The NCAA is looking at allowing student athletes more access to representation in order to make better decisions about their professional sports careers, NCAA Dir of Agent, Gambling & Amateurism Activities Rachel Newman Baker said Thursday at the Sports Lawyers Association's annual conference in DC. "We want individuals to be able to make good decisions," Baker said in regards to student athletes having representation in their future careers as professional athletes. Baker said the decision of having more debate on the issue was not related to the fact that an Ohio state judge found an NCAA rule which allows student athletes to have lawyers, but does not allow those lawyers to interact directly with professional sports teams to be "arbitrary and capricious" and in violation of public policy of every state in the nation. The judge made that ruling in the case of Tigers P Andy Oliver, who was suspended as playing as a college student at Oklahoma State Univ. after it was learned his advisors had direct interaction with the MLB club that drafted him out of high school, a common industry practice. The NCAA settled that case in ‘09 by paying Oliver a settlement of $750,000. Baker said after speaking before the SLA that some members of the NCAA are interested in re-examining the ability of student athletes to interact with lawyers and agents. "We are looking at where we want to draw the line," Baker said. "There seems to be a limited faction, it's not a huge public outcry, but there have been some individuals or institutions that have indicated an interest in a much more national debate on that particular topic -- where the line should be related to agents.”

OTHER ISSUES: NCAA regulations as related to agents, as well as the BCS system, dominated the first day of the conference. In addition to the panel on agent interference, the conference hosted a town hall debate on the issue of whether the NCAA's BCS system violates antitrust laws. Allen Fishel, an attorney who represents the Mountain West Conference and Boise State Univ., argued that the system does violate U.S. antitrust laws. But attorney Robert Wierenga, who represents the NCAA, said the BCS system is not a violation of antitrust law because antitrust laws were adopted to protect economic competition and have rejected antitrust challenges to rules adopted by leagues and other sports entities.
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