With four weekends in the books, Kentucky is the only unbeaten team remaining in college baseball. The Wildcats are 17-0 heading into today's game against Murray State, with a series against No. 3 South Carolina looming this weekend.
The Gamecocks will be Kentucky's first significant test, as the Wildcats have played just two games against teams with winning records: South Carolina-Upstate (12-2) and Morehead State (9-8). The rest of their opponents have an aggregate record of 59-89.
But that doesn't mean Kentucky is going to fold once Southeastern Conference play begins. These Wildcats are talented and balanced, with a deep collection of power arms on the mound (many of them lefthanded) and an intriguing blend of power and speed in the lineup.
"There's a few things," Wildcats coach Gary Henderson said by way of explanation for his team's hot start. "Our starting pitching's been solid. We've got some solid, if not better than that, depth in the bullpen, so we've got some options back there. You never feel like you're held hostage and have to run that starter out there for seven innings every time. Our starting position players have been outstanding playing defense. And our concentration at the plate has been really good." [...] Continue Reading »
Nebraska freshman lefthander Logan Ehlers has been suspended for 60 percent of the regular season because his adviser had contact with a professional team on his behalf last summer. Nebraska is appealing the NCAA's ruling, but as it stands Ehlers will not be eligible until April 12.
"The things Logan has done and they've decided to go through the process on are such minute and fine things," Cornhuskers coach Mike Anderson told Baseball America. "We believe Logan did things right. We're talking about contact that did not involve any negotiations—zero. And we're talking about Logan setting a number and not wavering from the number through the summer to be here. We think Logan did things right the entire time."
Ehlers was an eighth-round pick by the Blue Jays out of Nebraska City (Neb.) High last June. He reportedly turned down an $800,000 offer from the club, but his adviser broke the NCAA's "no agent" rule when he had contact with Toronto in the Cape Cod League.
"We're talking about a 30-second contact in the Cape Cod League," Anderson said. "The question was asked, 'Is the number still the same?' The answer was yes. I think Logan's honesty really hurt him with the NCAA." [...] Continue Reading »
Lefthander James Paxton has decided to leave Kentucky, according to BluGrass Baseball. That blog quotes Wildcats coach Gary Henderson saying: "James has decided not to play with us. What I can tell you is the University of Kentucky and Gary Henderson have done everything they can to try and convince James to be a part of this baseball team. We wanted him to be a part of our club; he could certainly make us a better team. I think it would have been the best decision for him baseball-wise, but he’s decided not to do that."
Paxton was never actually suspended by the Wildcats, but neither was he active—he was just withheld from competition until his eligibility could be cleared up. NCAA investigators wanted to meet with Paxton regarding a news report that agent Scott Boras negotiated with the Blue Jays on his behalf last summer. Paxton sued the school in an attempt to assert his due process rights and avoid meeting with the NCAA, but he lost his bid for a temporary injunction, and his appeal was denied last Friday. [...] Continue Reading »
The Kentucky Court of Appeals on Friday denied UK lefthander James Paxton's request for interlocutory relief, which was essentially an appeal of the circuit judge's denial of his request for a temporary injunction that would allow Paxton to play without having to meet with NCAA investigators.
Paxton's attorneys were hoping the courts would assert Paxton's right of due process under the school's code of conduct, which would mean he would not have to testify against himself in an NCAA hearing. Media reports surfaced last summer quoting a Blue Jays executive saying that agent Scott Boras handled Paxton's negotiations after the Jays drafted him in the supplemental first round. That would be a violation of the "no agent" rule and would render Paxton ineligible to participate this spring, in all likelihood. Paxton attorney Rick Johnson said in an e-mail that his side would determine by Monday whether or not to file another appeal with the state's Supreme Court. [...] Continue Reading »
GREENVILLE, N.C.—Our long national nightmare is over; college baseball season is officially underway around the country.
A couple early results are in: At the Wake Forest Tournament in Winston-Salem, N.C., Patriot League favorite Army routed Atlantic 10 favorite Dayton 14-6. And down in Myrtle Beach, Kentucky showed that it doesn't necessarily need James Paxton to win on Fridays. Led by third-team preseason All-America second baseman Chris Bisson's 4-for-4 day, the Wildcats scored 15 runs behind sophomore righty Alex Meyer (5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 8 K) to beat Virginia Tech 15-6.
Here at Clark-LeClair Stadium, I'm trying my hand at Twitter. East Carolina jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first against Virginia ace Danny Hultzen, but he wriggled out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam with minimal damage, and he has settled in since. But ECU starter Seth Maness got off to a terrific start, using his outstanding changeup and good fastball command to rack up three strikeouts through three scoreless innings. The Pirates carried a 2-0 lead into the fourth. [...] Continue Reading »
Less than a week from Kentucky's season opener against Virginia Tech in Myrtle Beach, the Wildcats still don't know when ace lefthander James Paxton will be available to play. Though Paxton is still on UK's roster and has not been officially suspended, the blog BluGrass Baseball reports he will not be part of Kentucky's rotation during the opening weekend. On Jan. 15, a Kentucky court denied Paxton's temporary injunction seeking to prevent him from having to meet with NCAA investigators in order to certify his eligibility. Paxton filed an appeal, and the Kentucky Court of Appeals set an expedited review of his appeal, which was fully briefed and submitted to a three-judge panel last Monday.
"I would expect them to decide it this week, but who knows?" Paxton attorney Rick Johnson said in an e-mail today.
The clerk for the court of appeals said in a phone call today that she was not sure when the judges would issue their ruling, but "it probably won't be by Friday."
Attorneys for Kentucky lefthander James Paxton have filed a motion in the Kentucky Court of Appeals, which has the authority to issue the temporary injunction denied by the Circuit Court on Jan. 15.
Paxton attorney Rick Johnson, who represented former Oklahoma State lefthander Andy Oliver in last year's "no agent" rule case, is trying to assert Paxton's due process rights—specifically, that he should not have to testify against himself in an interview with an NCAA investigator regarding potential violations of the "no agent" rule. [...] Continue Reading »
A Kentucky judge ruled Friday night that the University of Kentucky can withhold lefthander James Paxton from games until he meets with an NCAA investigator to clear up questions about his eligibility.
The Associated Press reported that Fayette County Circuit Judge James Ishmael denied Paxton's request to stop the school from benching him for his refusal to answer undisclosed questions from the NCAA. Paxton, an unsigned first-round pick who likely violated the NCAA's "no agent" rule during contract negotiations with the Blue Jays last summer, was banking on the court protecting his due process rights by applying UK's student code to student-athletes.
"That is clearly not part of the student code," Ishmael said in his ruling, issued shortly before 10 p.m. Friday. "I don't see how in the world a student code can address the NCAA eligibility of a student athlete." [...] Continue Reading »
We have posted a new story about the James Paxton case today. The story rehashes some facts and puts together some things that have already been written here on the college blog, but there are a few new details that I want to highlight.
I had speculated on the blog last week that Paxton’s best chance to play in 2010 might be to meet with the NCAA investigators and admit that he violated the "no agent" rule, then hope for a penalty in line with Jeremy Sowers’ six-game suspension in 2002. Since writing that, I have learned that the NCAA changed the presumptive penalty for violating the "no agent" rule to permanent ineligibility in January 2006. That change was revealed in documents unsealed by the settlement in the Andy Oliver case this fall. The NCAA has the option to reduce the penalty from permanent ineligibility if there are extenuating circumstances, but don’t expect Paxton to gamble on the NCAA’s mercy. Coming clean about a violation of the "no agent" rule is not a tenable option for Paxton. [...] Continue Reading »
A hearing has been set for Jan. 15 in the James Paxton vs. University of Kentucky case. The court also made it clear that Paxton’s status as a member of the Kentucky baseball team and a recipient of a grant-in-aid will not change, pending further orders of the court.
Earlier this week, Paxton’s lawyers filed a reply to Kentucky’s response to Paxton’s request for an injunction. One of his lawyers, Rick Johnson, who represented former Oklahoma State lefthander Andy Oliver in his lawsuit against the NCAA, e-mailed media that the Oliver case was about establishing the student-athlete’s right to counsel. Paxton’s case "hopefully will establish the student-athlete’s right to due process, and, specifically, the student-athlete’s right to be treated like every other student on campus" according to the code of conduct at the athlete’s school.
To me, this wrangling over due process feels like a stall tactic—and Paxton only suffers by delaying the inevitable. [...] Continue Reading »
On Friday afternoon, the University of Kentucky filed its response to lefthander James Paxton’s lawsuit. Two days earlier, Paxton had filed a motion for a temporary injunction seeking to prevent UK from requiring him to interview with an NCAA investigator until Kentucky provides him with written notice of the allegations or charges against him.
Kentucky says no charges have been made by the university or the NCAA. UK also says "the NCAA received information concerning the Plaintiff [Paxton] via a media report and wants to ask Plaintiff about that media report to see if an investigation is necessary." The school says it showed Paxton the media report and explained the investigation process to Paxton and his counsel.
Here’s the heart of the issue. Kentucky’s response contains a copy of the media account that spurred this investigation, an Aug. 18 report in the (Toronto) Globe and Mail that discusses the Blue Jays’ failure to sign Paxton, their supplemental first-round pick. Toronto’s interim president, Paul Beeston, told the paper that he personally handled the Paxton negotiations—through Paxton’s agent, Scott Boras. [...] Continue Reading »
UPDATED: Thursday, 5:51 p.m. ET
The New York Times reported last night that Kentucky lefthander James Paxton, the highest-drafted player to return to college this year, sued UK on Wednesday, charging that athletic officials threatened to bar him from playing if he did not agree to meet with NCAA investigators, even though he was not told what rules he was accused of violating.
Paxton, the 37th overall pick in the 2009 draft by the Blue Jays, did not sign a pro contract before the Aug. 17 deadline and returned to Kentucky for his senior year. He missed time this fall with a minor knee scope and mononucleosis, but he returned to participate in workouts and team activities. The lawsuit says that Sandy Bell, the senior associate athletics director for student services in the UK compliance office, told Paxton that he must submit to an interview with an NCAA representative. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that according to the lawsuit, Bell’s remarks gave Paxton reason to believe he would be suspended from the baseball team for some period of time whether he consented to the interview or not. The suit also says that athletic director Mitch Barnhart told Paxton’s attorney that Paxton would not be able to participate on the baseball team unless he agreed to the interview. [...] Continue Reading »
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