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Sunday, May 26, 2024 | Back issues
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Ballplayer Sues U of Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. (CN) - University of Kentucky baseball star James Paxton says the college threatened to suspend him from the team if he did not agree to be interviewed by an NCAA investigator, and ordered him "not to tell anyone."

He says the school refused to tell him what the accusations were and instructed hime "not to tell anyone including his parents or his counsel, about either the interview or the directive that he submit to the interview."

Paxton, a pitcher, claims a university official approached him in October 2009 and told him he had to participate in an interview with Chance Miller, the NCAA assistant director of agent, gambling and amateurism activities.

Paxton says the college official refused to tell him why the NCAA needed to question him, but ordered him to "not to tell anyone, including his parents or his counsel, about either the interview or the directive that he submit to the interview."

He says the official also told him that "when a university basketball player cooperated with the NCAA, he had received a six-game suspension rather than a suspension for the entire season."

Paxton says he understood that to mean that he "would be suspended for some period of time even if he participated in the interview."

Paxton says UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart told his lawyers that he would not be able to play for the school's baseball team unless he agreed to the interview, despite the university's failure to tell him "about the existence or nature of any allegations of misconduct or wrongdoing against him."

Paxton says the UK code of student conduct prohibits the school from suspending athletes without informing them of the charges against them, and that its own rules guarantee the player's right "not [to] be compelled to give testimony" and that the "refusal to do so shall not be considered evidence of responsibility for an alleged violation."

He says requiring him to submit to the interview or face suspension violates the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and the Kentucky Constitution.

Paxton, who says he anticipates to be "drafted in the first round of the Major League Baseball ('MLB') draft," claims he will "suffer irreparable harm if he is excluded from the 2010 [college] baseball season."

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Paxton was selected 37th in the 2009 amateur draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, but decided to return to UK and compete his senior year.

Paxton seeks an injunction prohibiting the university from forcing him to submit to the interview as a precondition for him to play for its baseball team and an order enjoining it from suspending him for refusing to be questioned by the NCAA.

He is represented in Fayette Circuit Court by Thomas Miller and Elizabeth Woodford with Miller, Griffin & Marks.

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