This week we look at the addition of golf and rugby to the 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympics and the effect it will have on the sports, and also the "favorable" outcome in a dispute over eligibility between OK State pitcher, Andrew Oliver, and the N.C.A.A.
With the addition of golf and rugby to the Olympic field starting in 2016, it's going to mean bigger and better things for not only the sports, but the amateurs playing the sports. Although the best pro golfers in the world will be able to play, including Tiger, the opportunity to play in front of millions worldwide for a country will be open to a wide array of new players. Rugby is also going to benefit from the mainstream media coverage and exposure the sport needs to flourish globally.
Young golfers will have a chance for exposure, not only for college scholarships and playing opportunities, but for endorsements and sponsors in both their own countries and internationally. This is an opportunity that may otherwise not have presented itself for a young player from a poorer, developing country who may not personally have the resources to play in tournaments or for a player on the cusp to be recognized by all of the major pro golf associations.
Now, I admit that I'm not well versed in the game of rugby, but having the sport in the Olympic games again will change that for me, and probably countless others. It will allow the sport to become recognized in many more countries and become the global sport it is. It may even help more colleges and universities pick it up as a scholarship sports program.
Andrew Oliver was declared ineligible in the spring of 2008 for allowing an agent to be present during his contract negotiations when he was a senior year in high school. Oliver challenged the N.C.A.A. Bylaws governing advisors in collegiate baseball, asserting that they violated state law in Ohio. The contested regulations permit a player to have a lawyer or agent guide them through the negotiation process, but prohibit such individual from speaking directly to teams. In the end, the N.C.A.A. and Oliver settled for $750,000 two weeks before the case was to go to a jury trial. Earlier this year, the Common Pleas Court of Erie County, Ohio ruled that the N.C.A.A. rule was overreaching and against public policy in the State of Ohio and thus void as a matter of law. However, in wake of the recent settlement, the February court order that invalidated the NCAA's no-representative rule will be vacated, essentially bringing things back to the status quo (i.e. the agent rule is back in effect).
Although this turned out in I guess a "favorable" situation for Oliver, it clearly could have been avoided, for a couple of reasons. One, the N.C.A.A. can tighten up their agent contact rules and ban all agent/lawyer contact whatsoever unless an athlete is definitely going pro. Or, the N.C.A.A. can change baseball's draft eligibility rules to be like collegiate football's and require players to be at least 3 years out of high school before they can become eligible. This would eliminate the limbo that many baseball players are in when they graduate high school and are drafted. Do they take the money and play pro or wait three more years and play college? These are some big gambles, but either way you should know the eligibility and agent/lawyer contact rules because it's bound to come out if you violate these rules and the whole thing becomes a big distraction.
I say that Oliver won, I guess, because I'm sure the whole dispute weighed heavily on his mind while he was playing and may have led to his struggles in his final season at Oklahoma State. Although he got $750k in the settlement, he was a projected first-rounder that slipped to the second round because of the down year. That drop in the draft may have cost him millions in signing bonus and guaranteed money.
In the end, it's better to just listen and act very closely to what the N.C.A.A. rules and regs say because it's only going to end up bad for you if you stray from them.
As always this blog is for you, so any questions or comments send them my way at firstname.lastname@example.org and enjoy this week's games.