Both Aaron Fitt of Baseball America and B. W. Jones of the Kentucky Kernel report that UK ace pitcher James Paxton has appealed the Circuit Court’s ruling in favor of UK to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Paxton’s attorney Rick Johnson had this to say in an email to the media:
Make no mistake about it: The Circuit Court found, based upon UK’s admissions, that James IS eligible to compete in intercollegiate athletics. However, that court erroneously found that, because the student code of conduct did not apply, James had no due process rights, and therefore that UK could withhold him from competition, in order to extort him to submit to an NCAA interview that it admits it cannot compel him to attend, without any consequence to itself . . . Implicit in all of this is that student-athletes are second-class citizens undeserving of the most basic civil rights.”
So now we know Paxton is appealing his case which may or may not result in a favorable ruling. The real question is what next for the Bat Cats? The situation is bad for all parties involved. Paxton should have had the right to negotiate with the Blue Jays through an agent, but the NCAA currently prohibits such action. UK can’t in good faith let Paxton risk the season for the rest of its team if they feel subsequent action from the NCAA would come from him playing.
At this point the Cats basically have to prepare as if Paxton isn’t going to play. As of now he is still practicing and working out with the team as if this will all go away when the season starts. Even if he wins this case the chances of a subsequent suit against the NCAA in the event of a likely suspension could be around the corner.
The chances of Paxton ever appearing in a UK game this season appear to be lessening with every legal advance. Maybe I’m wrong and he wins a quick appeal and the NCAA gives up its investigation, but don’t count on it.