Paxton case lacks necessary fairness

After a semester’s break, new classes and court motions, the situation between UK and James Paxton may not be much closer to being resolved than it was when the mess started.

According to a Jan. 15 Kernel article, a Fayette County Circuit Court judge denied UK’s motion to dismiss the case with UK senior pitcher James Paxton. Paxton sued the university for a temporary injunction that would allow him to play baseball this season without submitting to an NCAA interview regarding his eligibility.

The murky situation doesn’t get clearer with Paxton having the right to appeal within the next 10 days and persuade the legal system to deliver a similar verdict as it did in the case of Oklahoma State pitcher Andy Oliver.

“It’s not just about James, it’s about students across the nation who don’t have due process before they’re suspended,” Richard Johnson, an attorney for Paxton, said in a phone interview with the Kernel.

Paxton’s eligibility is in question after being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays and after concerns were raised about his relationship with his adviser Scott Boras. Paxton turned down a $1 million signing bonus and a major league contract with Toronto to return to UK and pitch his senior year.

“I gave up a lot to come back here,” Paxton said. “I’m feeling let down they’re not on my side.”

As a result of the situation the NCAA requested that Paxton submit to an NCAA review, which Paxton denied, because he was not told what the review was for. UK, desiring to stay in the good graces of the NCAA, told Paxton that he would not be eligible under NCAA rules if he didn’t comply.

At the core of the issue are the rules the NCAA enforces. In a situation where UK must resort to infringing upon the rights of a student in order to follow the rules, something is wrong. UK is bending too much to the NCAA if indeed Paxton’s rights as a student were superceded by the NCAA’s rules.

Just because the NCAA can throw its weight around and get athletic departments to cower in their presence doesn’t mean it can break university rules. As a governing body, the NCAA should go above and beyond to ensure the well-being of its athletes, especially in situations like this.

Due process is something everyone deserves. Yes, Paxton must submit to an interview or deal with the consequences UK and the NCAA deem necessary, but he needs to know first on what charges he is being asked to submit to the interview.

It’s sad that this situation has become such a big issue, but it can be easily resolved if the adults play by the rules and keep students’ rights in mind.