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Delayed entrances raise questions about eligibility

by Tracy Ringolsby
September 9, 2004

DENVER—Let's get this straight.

The NCAA will allow an athlete to sign a professional baseball contract, play baseball for a few years and still be eligible to play college athletics, even delaying entrance to college for a couple of years.

Think about it. Joe Klatt, the quarterback at Colorado, is having his college education paid for by the Padres, after they made him an 11th-round pick in 2000. Running back Vernand Morency of Oklahoma State, who ran for 261 yards and two touchdowns against UCLA in the Cowboys' season opener, is having his school paid for by the Rockies, who picked him in the 14th round of the 1998 draft.

Both played three years of minor league baseball before deciding to go to college, with Klatt mixing football and baseball for a couple of years and Morency giving up baseball once he shifted to football. And you can find countless more examples, past and present.

But the NCAA ruled Jeremy Bloom ineligible to play football at Colorado because he was going to do endorsements related to his skiing ability so he could afford to train for a bid to participate in the Winter Olympics.

What's the difference?

The NCAA ruled Southern California wide receiver Mike Williams ineligible because he filed for the NFL draft and hired an agent. Silly Williams. The agent should have called himself an adviser—then it would have been legal.

At least it is in baseball. Men who make a living as agents for professional baseball players wander around claiming they are advisers when it comes to the amateur draft, and the NCAA welcomes their involvement. Heck, there's at least one "adviser" who threatened legal action against a big league team if the team insisted on directly talking to the player he was "advising."

What's the difference?

Getting Approval

Jeff Moorad's appointment as chief executive and new investor in the Diamondbacks is on hold.

Arizona's new ownership group forgot one thing in its haste to bring Moorad on board: getting approval of the restructuring of the team's ownership, which is required by major league bylaws.

"They applied for approval (from ownership) four months ago with a plan to keep (Jerry) Colangelo in place," said a major league source who requested anonymity. "Now they are changing that structure, but they haven't come to the owners to get approval."

And approval is no slam dunk.

Already the Major League Baseball Players Association has questioned Moorad's move to the "other side." And there are those in ownership who have questions about Moorad becoming a critical figure in ownership.

This isn't Jerry Kapstein, one of the original agents, marrying the daughter of the late Ray Kroc, who owned the Padres at the time, and becoming the president of the Padres. Times are different, particularly in the world of agents. Moorad was a key figure in one of the largest agent operations in the game, and as such had enemies among his peers as well as ownership.

Word On The Street

Former Marlins manager John Boles resigned as a special adviser in baseball operations with the Dodgers. Word is he became disenchanted with the lack of communication from above.

A.J. Hinch is about ready to wrap up his playing career, and word in Arizona is if the Moorad agreement finally gets approved, then Hinch, a former client of Moorad's, will wind up as the Diamondbacks farm director. The Dodgers and Athletics also have interest in Hinch for an office position. More rumors in Arizona say that Eric Karros and Will Clark will wind up as part of Moorad's management team.

Diamondbacks righthander Casey Daigle and Marlins catcher Matt Treanor, who spent most of the season at Triple-A Albuquerque and earned a big league callup after the minor league season, are both engaged to Olympic gold-medal winners. Daigle and softball pitcher Jennie Finch plan to get married in October, while Treanor and beach volleyball standout Misty May are getting married in November.

Greg Maddux and Sammy Sosa of the Cubs are the fourth set of teammates with 300 pitching wins and 500 homers. The other three were Lefty Grove and Jimmie Foxx of the 1941 Red Sox; Warren Spahn and Willie Mays of the 1965 Giants; and Don Sutton and Reggie Jackson of the 1985-86 Angels.

Six members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame played major league baseball: Red Badgro, Paddy Driscoll, George Halas, Ernie Nevers, Ace Parker and Jim Thorpe.

Tracy Ringolsby is the national baseball writer for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver. You can contact him by sending e-mail to tracyringolsby@baseballamerica.com.

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