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Report: Phillies Turn in OSU’s Wetzler to NCAA

Mike Axisa of

According to Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt, the Phillies turned Oregon State left-hander Ben Wetzler in to the NCAA after he declined to sign as their fifth round pick in last summer’s draft and returned to school for his senior season.

The agent/advisor distinction which Axisa dismisses has a fairly clear line. Advisors do not have direct contact with the team and are not present during negotiating sessions. Agents negotiate on behalf of the client directly with the team and are present during negotiations. To use an agent as an advisor, the athlete has to get offers from the team and take them to the advisor who helps the athlete determine whether the offer is enough and how to craft a counteroffer.

If the Phillies notified the NCAA that Wetzler committed a violation, the team has to be alleging some direct contact or negotiations with Wetzler’s advisor. While his advisor has not been named, he is described as a financial advisor, not an agent. An experienced MLB agent would be aware of the NCAA’s advisor/agent distinction and if he has the best interests of the player at heart, he would take care to avoid trigger the agent rules to maintain maximum leverage for his client.

Professional teams turning athletes into the NCAA or intentionally sabotaging their eligibility is not a new phenomenon. Former Kentucky basketball player Enes Kanter’s father claimed his Turkish club team was “trying to making an example” of Kanter. Prior to the adoption of Proposal 2009–22, professional clubs would often move youth and professional players onto different teams in order to trigger the NCAA’s competition with professional’s penalties. On the agent side, a dispute between Oklahoma State pitcher Andrew Oliver and his former advisors lead to his suspension before he settled with the NCAA following a trial court victory.

This case has refocused attention on whether athletes should be able to have agents, especially when they are drafted and negotiating with professional teams but still have eligibility remaining. In April 2013, the Leadership Council discussed possible legislative proposals (supplement 5) to allow prospects, but not current student-athletes, to have agents either in open-draft sports or all sports. The Amateurism Cabinet did not support the concept generally but did say that if prospects were allowed to have agents, then current student-athletes should as well. That discussion appears to have been tabled when governance issues came to the forefront over the summer. Agents not been mentioned by the Leadership Council since that April meeting.

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