Jason Monda surprised most casual observers this past offseason when he spurned the Philadelphia Phillies, who selected him in the sixth round of Major League Baseball's amateur draft, to return to WSU. He began his senior season this past weekend, delivering a key hit in Saturday's victory over No. 1 Cal State Fullerton and then starting Monday's game at pitcher against UC Riverside.
However, another player drafted by the Phillies who returned to school -- Oregon State's LHP Ben Wetzler, a fifth round pick - hasn't been so fortunate. He missed the opening weekend while under investigation by the NCAA.
It's an investigation that reportedly was prompted by the Phillies (more on why that is astoundingly bad business in a minute), who apparently also tried to get Monda in trouble:
If you're wondering how the Phillies would be involved with the NCAA eligibility of their draft picks and what "turn in" means, it all revolves around the weirdness of the relationship with agents that the NCAA allows with baseball players.
In football and basketball, an agent sniffing around a player is big time trouble. In baseball, players and their families are allowed to retain agents as "advisors," provided there is no representation going on (contacting teams on behalf of the player, negotiating on his behalf, etc.) and no agreement in place to represent the player in the future. They're allowed to give advice on likely contract value, and that's it.
Monday After: WSU opens season with just 1 win
The Cougs nearly pulled off a series victory against No. 1 Cal State Fullerton before falling to UC Riverside to go 1-3 in California.
In practice, players,
agents advisers and professional clubs regularly flirt with the line of what the NCAA would find acceptable, and there's a bit of a don't ask/don't tell atmosphere around it all. It's in the clubs' best interest to keep a good reputation among draftable players, since those players more often than not aren't in a position where they have to accept what the club is offering.
Unless, of course, the club is pissed that a player didn't sign and is willing to employ a scorched earth policy to let future potential draft picks know that the Phillies will not be trifled with. In that case, I guess(?) it makes sense to somebody to tattle to the NCAA. But it seems like an awfully bad strategy to me.
It looks even worse when the player is cleared by the NCAA, as Monda appears to have been; beyond the report, there's no way he'd have played the opening weekend if the question of his eligibility was still hanging over his head. (Emails to the WSU Athletic Communications office seeking clarity were not immediately returned.)
Wetzler, on the other hand, has been in limbo since -- wait for it -- November. And continues to sit out.
Can you imagine Johnny Football's eligibility being in limbo for 3 months? But ace for nation's No. 2 baseball team just has to wait. Absurd— Aaron Fitt (@aaronfitt) February 20, 2014
As usual, the only one hurt in the process is the player.
EDIT (Feb. 20, 5:10 p.m.): WSU has released a statement that acknowledges there was a review ... but not much else.
In regard to recent inquiries regarding senior Jason Monda's eligibility, his situation was reviewed by Washington State University Athletics Compliance and the NCAA. WSU is bound by NCAA rules to make no further comment.