UK filed an 87-page response to senior pitcher James Paxton’s motion for a temporary injunction on Friday afternoon while also releasing a statement clarifying that Paxton has been on the team throughout the process. The statement also said Paxton’s scholarship has never been in jeopardy.
In the response, UK states Paxton was told he should not speak to his parents before meeting with an NCAA investigator because his parents would likely be interviewed as well, and the investigation required each individual to give an independent account of the events the NCAA is interested in.
The response also contains e-mail exchanges between Senior Associate Athletic Director Sandy Bell and Chance Miller, the NCAA investigator. In one of the e-mails, Miller tells Bell she should tell Paxton he can have legal counsel if he chooses to do so. Additional e-mails indicate that Peter Ostermiller, a Louisville attorney representing Paxton in the case, planned on being present with Paxton at the time of his interview with the NCAA.
Ostermiller later sent an e-mail to Bell in which he requested Bell tell him what issues the NCAA wished to interview Paxton about. Miller responded to Ostermiller, citing NCAA bylaw 188.8.131.52 which states a student-athlete does not have to be made aware what potential violations they will be interviewed about if doing so could be detrimental to the interests of the student-athlete or the school.
Richard G. Johnson, one of Paxton’s lawyers, confirmed to the Kernel on Friday evening in a phone interview that Paxton was represented by Scott Boras after being drafted 37th overall in the 2009 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays.
According to Johnson, NCAA rules state that while amateur athletes can have a lawyer to consult with after being drafted, that lawyer cannot speak with the team as part of negotiations.
In an Aug. 18 newspaper story included in the response, Paul Beeston, then the interim president of the Blue Jays, said he negotiated with Boras and not the Paxton family. An affidavit signed by Paxton included in the response says he never gave anyone consent to anyone to negotiate on his behalf with a professional team.
Johnson said asking his client to discuss whether Boras was involved in negotiations is confidential as part of the attorney-client privelege.
“This is a civil rights case,” Johnson said. “This is about whether you have a right to a lawyer.”
Johnson believes that the NCAA violates the rights of student-athletes all over the country.
“They don’t lose their due process rights because they put on a uniform,” he said.
Johnson said Paxton decided to return to UK after turning down a contract from the Blue Jays worth about $1 million.
“That’s the epitome of being an amateur,” Johnson said.
Even with the lawsuit and questions still to come from the NCAA, Johnson was confident his client would be able to return and pitch for UK this coming season.
“James is going to be playing baseball come hell or high water,” Johnson said.