The NCAA has long fought to keep college athletes true amateurs, meanwhile the schools the athletes play for and various media outlets are able to profit on the hard work put in by men and women who are in their late teens and early twenties. There has long been debates regarding whether or not the college athlete should be able to get paid, mainly in regards to college football, but they are also banned from securing an agent to represent them if they want to retain collegiate eligibility.
The “no agent” rule has recently come into scrutiny after Aaron Fitt of Baseball America reported the Philadelphia Phillies have essentially gone third grader on two of their 2013 draftees, and tattled on them to the NCAA. The Phillies are claiming Ben Wetzler and Jason Monda used agents to negotiate contracts, before ultimately deciding to go back to school instead. Monda, an outfielder at Washington State, has been cleared of wrong doing and is eligible to play after being selected in the sixth round last year, but Wetzler, fifth round left-handed pitcher from Oregon State, has had no such luck thus far.
Let us take a closer look at the “no agent” rule for a moment. Wetzler, a 21-year old college junior at the time,was expected to sit down with a multimillion, bordering on billion, dollar company, the Phillies, who employ many well paid and experienced contract negotiators, and he is to do this with no help from an agent to let him know whether or not he is being completely ripped off. Anyone in their right mind would say that is a terrible idea, and he should bring an agent with him, which most players do despite it technically being against NCAA rules. Baseball teams have long let it slide as they recognize the fallacy in believing the kid doesn’t deserve an agent at the table with him.
Instead of looking the other way regarding an agent like they have likely done countless times before, the Phillies, who have made several questionable business decisions when it comes to aging MLB veterans, are attempting to punish a college athlete for deciding to go back to school.
Wetzler, recently ranked the 202nd draft prospect by Matt Garrioch of SB Nation, will not be able to play until he is cleared by the NCAA. If they determine, and decide to uphold the absurd rule, Wetzler will not be able to play collegiate baseball this season, and his stock will certainly plummet. Just another unfortunate example of big business sports leagues flexing their muscle at the expense of the student athlete.