Posted on Thu, Dec. 01, 2005
UK can appeal Morris decision
CATS, NCAA REFUSE TO SAY WHAT DECISION WAS
By Jerry Tipton
HERALD-LEADER STAFF WRITER
A NCAA appeals committee made a judgment yesterday on an important question surrounding the restoration of Kentucky big man Randolph Morris's eligibility: What was the nature of his relationship with the sports agency SFX when he entered this year's NBA draft?
Neither Kentucky nor NCAA officials would reveal the NCAA Division I Legislative Review and Interpretations Committee decision, which hits at the heart of Morris's future eligibility. NCAA rules prohibit a player from entering a written or oral agreement with an agent.
Several links between Morris and SFX became known as the player entered the draft and then tried to regain his eligibility after going unselected.
No one spoke optimistically about Morris quickly rejoining Kentucky's team. Perhaps tellingly, a NCAA news release noted that UK could appeal the decision to a higher authority in the organization, the Management Council. Pending an appeal, a judgment that SFX served as Morris's agent would mean UK seeks the restoration of eligibility for a player who officially crossed a bright line separating amateur and professional.
UK would seek the restoration of Morris's eligibility from the Student-Athlete Reinstatement staff at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis. The staff will determine if Morris can be reinstated, and, if so, under conditions such as repayment of expenses paid by the NBA. Morris also could be suspended for a specific number of games. Morris would get credit for the six games he's missed so far this season in any suspension.
When contacted last night, the player's father had not heard about the decision. Ralph Morris sounded ready to accept an unfavorable judgment.
"I'm just kind of ambivalent now," he said, "because it's dragged out so long. You get to the point that if they decide against him or declare him ineligible, life goes on. You move on."
SFX reportedly arranged a workout for Morris and other prospects, who subsequently declared themselves clients of the agency, in Chicago prior to the June 28 draft. SFX also issued a statement to the media announcing Morris' decision to not avail himself of the option of leaving the draft. A list compiled to help NBA teams arrange pre-draft workouts for prospects had SFX as the contact for Morris.
Morris and SFX denied that an oral or written agreement existed.
When asked if a trained eye of an agent would see significance in the links, Calvin Andrews said yes.
"It would mean you were representing that guy or you have an agreement to represent him," said Andrews, who represents former UK star Chuck Hayes. "Therein lies the problem."
Andrews acknowledged that he had no direct knowledge of the relationship between Morris and SFX.
Former UK player Bret Bearup, whose job as a financial advisor for athletes makes him familiar with player-agent relationships, interpreted the SFX-Morris links as signs of an agreement.
SFX probably did its work "with the expectation if he was drafted, he'd sign with them," said Bearup, who also admitted no direct knowledge. "Certainly there's evidence of some sort of agreement."
Ralph Morris insisted that no written agreement existed.
When asked if SFX had an oral understanding with his son and the family, Ralph Morris said, "I don't think that's the case. Then again, that is how they interpret their rules."
The SFX-arranged workout in Chicago? "What does that mean?" Ralph Morris said.
The statement SFX made to the media on his son's behalf? "I could have done that," Ralph Morris said. "Or anybody on the street. Does that mean they represent him? It's how they interpret it, I guess."
Morris, a 6-foot-10 center, came to UK last year as one of three McDonald's All-Americans. It seemed plausible for him to consider jumping directly from Atlanta's Landmark Christian High to the NBA.
After he averaged a pedestrian 8.8 points and 4.2 rebounds, Morris surprised many by entering the draft and not withdrawing.
"He's doing fine," Ralph Morris said of his son's emotional state. "He's a resilient person, and I think he's matured a great deal over the last year. He sees the world the way it is as opposed to being protected."
When asked if he meant the proverbial cold, cruel world, the player's father said, "Oh yes."