High school players who are drafted will now be allowed to have an agent negotiate for them with major league clubs before enrolling in college without affecting their NCAA eligibility, following a vote Friday at the NCAA Convention.
A proposal that was sponsored by the Big 12 Conference as a part of the process the Power Five conferences have to autonomously adopt legislation easily passed by a vote of 75-2 with three abstentions. The rule goes into effect immediately for the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12, Big Ten Conference, Pacific 12 Conference and the Southeastern Conference. Other Division I conferences may adopt the rule if they so choose.
High school draftees must pay the agent’s going rate and may not receive any additional benefits. If they do not sign, they must terminate their relationship with the agent before enrolling in college.
Texas Tech outfielder Anthony Lyons voiced his support for the rule change at the convention.
"You're dealing with high school students who are approached by professional baseball scouts, and a life-changing amount of money can be thrown your way," he said. "In this situation, it's very important for student-athletes in high school and their families to feel comfortable, to have an agent or advisor or lawyer to help them out.”
Agents around the game applauded the rule change.
"I think it's a positive step," Francis Marquez of Magnus Sports said. "Institutions of higher learning should be the ones that appreciate the most a young man's right to seek council."
David Meter, CEO of SportsMeter, said he thinks the new rule will work well for everybody. Players get the benefit of having a professional represent them in contract negotiations without worrying about their future college eligibility. Teams get to negotiate with someone who has experience in those settings, rather than a family going through the process for the first time.
"That part of it does cause parents and student-athletes a great deal of stress," he said. "This should alleviate the pressure they feel in negotiating a deal as well."
At last week’s American Baseball Coaches Association convention, executive director Craig Keilitz said he thought it was a good rule.
“Really it’s giving the opportunity for a student to make the correct decision for them and to have all the facts,” he said. “If we’re talking about student welfare, I’d like the student to have all the opportunities to make the right decision.”
The rule will only affect high school players. College players with eligibility remaining will still not be allowed to use an agent in contract negotiations without jeopardizing their eligibility.
The NCAA’s rules prohibiting agents has been challenged a few times in recent years, perhaps most famously by Oklahoma State lefthander Andy Oliver. He was suspended in 2008 after allegedly allowing an agent to negotiate with the Twins two years earlier when he was drafted in the 17th round out of high school.
Oliver sued the NCAA, eventually settling the case for $750,000.