Paxton gives up fight, leaves UK

UK REFUSED TO PLAY PITCHER PENDING NCAA INVESTIGATION

psullivan@herald-leader.comFebruary 27, 2010 

The University of Kentucky pitcher who filed a lawsuit against the school has left the team, UK's baseball coach said.

According to head coach Gary Henderson, James Paxton decided to leave.

"We wanted him to be a part of our club; he could certainly make us a better team," Henderson said. "I think it would have been the best decision for him baseball-wise, but he's decided not to do that."

Attempts to reach Paxton and his family were unsuccessful.

Paxton's departure comes nearly three months after he sued UK in Fayette Circuit Court, alleging that officials told him he had to submit to NCAA questioning or face expulsion from the team.

Attorneys agreed to let Paxton remain on the team and receive his scholarship money while the case proceeded.

Paxton, rated the No. 1 college senior in the country by Baseball America magazine, declined interviews with the NCAA about his eligibility and his dealings with the Toronto Blue Jays.

He turned down a contract offer from the Blue Jays, opting instead to return to UK to complete his senior year.

According to court records, UK senior associate athletics director Sandra Bell told Paxton after the fall 2009 semester began that a newspaper blog included a quotation from the interim president of the Blue Jays that he wished he could have talked directly to Paxton or his family instead of agent Scott Boras.

Under NCAA rules, a drafted player and the player's family are allowed to consult with an agent, but the agent is not allowed to talk directly to the professional team.

A release from UK said the school did not want to risk forfeiting games and put "the entire UK 22-sport intercollegiate athletics department at risk" by having Paxton compete.

"UK is more optimistic than James and his family that any period of ineligibility could be shortened to allow James to pitch during the last and most important part of the season, the Southeastern Conference schedule," which begins March 19, UK's release said. "So it is disappointing that James is unwilling to go through the normal NCAA process, allowing UK to appeal for him, if necessary."

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