For the background story on UK ace pitcher, James Paxton, click here. He wanted to know what the NCAA wanted to talk about. I suspected it was about the draft process and Paxton’s advisor. According to John Hale at BluGrass Baseball, we now know that:
Paxton is almost certainly under investigation by the NCAA for violating the no-agent rule.
That should come as no surprise based on comments from the Blue Jays interim manager that Paxton’s agent negotiated with the team. If that happened, that was a violation of NCAA rules. With violations come sanctions.
Aaron Fitt of Baseball America speculated last week that Paxton’s best chance to play in the 2010 season would be to admit he violated the no agent rule. Then he would probably receive a suspension of six games. That’s not an option. The NCAA sanction is permanent ineligibility.
Since writing that, I have learned that the NCAA changed the presumptive penalty for violating the “no agent” rule to permanent ineligibility…. 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.
What is a tenable option for the UK ace? His lawsuit. He sued the university seeking to enforce his rights of due process under the student code of conduct. Under the code, Paxton has the right to remain silent and his silence can’t be used against him. Fitt also points out that it is unlikely that anyone from the sports agency or the Blue Jays will give a statement against Paxton so there will be no evidence to support any sanctions. Sounds pretty simple to me.
UK’s position on the other hand, is that by failing to comply with the interview, he has violated NCAA rules and therefore, subject to sanctions.
Paxton’s expert points out that UK is missing a huge point. Paxton is not a member of the NCAA. Therefore, only UK can sanction him and can only do so under the code of conduct.
This case looks incredibly similar to a criminal trial. I also want to point out that there has been no evidence produced yet that would indicate that Paxton did anything wrong. Even though this is not a criminal case, I hope that we can all presume him not guilty.
I wish Paxton well. His team opens the 2010 season here in Conway. I hope to see him pitching in the opening game.