Oliver receives $750,000 settlement

TOLEDO, Ohio -- A former Oklahoma State pitcher received a $750,000 settlement from the NCAA to end a lawsuit challenging a rule that bans college baseball players from using legal advisers in contract negotiations with professional teams.

The NCAA also won a victory because the deal allows it to keep in place a rule prohibiting players from hiring advisers to participate in contract talks.

Andrew Oliver, a second-round draft pick by the Detroit Tigers this year, filed the lawsuit against the NCAA for damages and breach of contract after he was ruled ineligible for using legal advisers to negotiate with the Minnesota Twins when he was drafted coming out of high school.

The settlement finalized Thursday comes as the suit was to go before an Ohio jury, near where Oliver grew up.

Erie County Common Pleas Judge Tygh Tone ordered the NCAA to reinstate Oliver in February and struck down the NCAA's rule on advisers, saying that the NCAA shouldn't restrict a player's right to have legal help when negotiating a major league contract.

The judge said the rule was impossible to enforce and allows for the player to be exploited.

The settlement vacates that ruling.

Oliver's attorney, Richard G. Johnson, said he was confident that Oliver would have won in court, but he did not want a lengthy court fight to hurt Oliver's career.

"Andy needs to focus on playing baseball," Johnson said. "The NCAA would've appealed this to the ends of the Earth. You can only go on for so long."

A message seeking comment from the NCAA was not returned.

Oliver had been suspended in the spring of 2008 because the NCAA said advisers he had hired listened in on contract negotiations after he was drafted by Minnesota in June 2006.

Baseball players -- unlike those in football and basketball -- can be drafted before they've entered college, prompting many to seek legal advice during negotiations.

Oliver attended Vermilion High School, midway between Cleveland and Toledo. He turned down the Twins because it was his dream to play in a College World Series, his lawyer said.

Johnson said the suspension hurt Oliver's draft status and potentially cost him millions.

The lawsuit continued to be a distraction even after he was reinstated and weighed heavily on Oliver, who had a subpar season at Oklahoma State and finished with a 1-5 record this year.

He's now playing in the Arizona Fall League.

Johnson said it was unfair that the NCAA forces athletes to attempt to negotiate complicated contracts without a lawyer on their side.

Richard Karcher, a former sports agent who heads the Center for Law and Sports at Florida Coastal University, testified at Oliver's first hearing this year that it was commonly known that most top prospects have an agent or adviser who helps them negotiate deals when they are drafted.

The NCAA has suspended only a handful of baseball players over the last decade who allowed their advisers to contact baseball clubs during negotiations.

Jeremy Sowers, who pitches in the Cleveland Indians organization, had to sit out six games at Vanderbilt in 2002 after his representatives talked with officials with the Cincinnati Reds, who had drafted him out of high school.