Erie County judge at bat in pitcher's lawsuit against NCAA

SANDUSKY As major leaguer Yogi Berra once said, 'It ain't over 'til it's over.' Both
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

As major leaguer Yogi Berra once said, 'It ain't over 'til it's over.'

Both sides rested in the case of Andrew A. Oliver vs. the National Collegiate Athletics Association on Tuesday. Now, Erie County Common Pleas Judge Tygh Tone must decide who was the winner in this game of legal hardball.

Oliver, a former Vermilion High School star and current Oklahoma State University pitcher, is suing to have his full eligibility reinstated and the NCAA rules dealing with player agents overturned.

Oliver was suspended byOklahoma State and the NCAA in May hours before a tournament game.

At 21, he's considered one of the top amateur pitching prospects in the country and will likely be a first-round selection in this spring's major league baseball draft.

Both sides now must submit post-trial briefs to Tone by Jan. 23. Tone said he will make his ruling two weeks after that.

"I've got a lot to go over," Tone said. "I have to go over all the evidence, watch a couple of depositions that I've read but I'd like to watch the person testify, and then I've got to figure out how I'm going to rule."

Oliver was suspended after it was learned last spring that his advisers in 2006 listened in during contract negotiations between Oliver and the Minnesota Twins the year he graduated high school.

Unlike the NBA or NFL, major league baseball teams can draft high school baseball players following their senior year. If a drafted player wants to maintain his college eligibility, however, that player cannot have an agent negotiate a contract.

Oliver hired Tim and Robert Baratta as his advisers in 2006. Tim Baratta listened in when the Twins offered Oliver a contract worth $390,000 after drafting him in the 17th round in 2006. The NCAA forbids agents from negotiating contracts on behalf of its athletes. The punishment for doing so is permanent ineligibility.

The NCAA learned of the infraction after the Barattas contacted them after Oliver fired the Barattas and hired Scott Boras to be his adviser. Boras is considered the top agent in major league baseball.

The second part of the trial, which has not been scheduled, will be heard by a jury. In that trial, Oliver is suing for damages, breach of contract and tortuous interference.