Wednesday, August 11, 2010

NCAA case study shows UNC players' trip was likely a violation

A case study by the NCAA’s Agent, Gambling and Amateurism activities staff shows North Carolina players Marvin Austin and Cam Thomas likely would have been in violation of NCAA rules if a former teammate paid for them to travel to California to attend a work-out camp in 2009.

Thomas, in an interview with The News & Observer Tuesday, said former UNC player Kentwan Balmer, who is now with the San Francisco 49ers, paid for the trip.
The question, then, is whether that violates the complex web of NCAA rules. The answer to that appears to be yes, according to an NCAA case study that is similar to what actually occurred.

Here’s the question from the NCAA’s case study:

• Student-athlete attends draft party for former teammate.
• Former teammate provides student-athlete round trip airfare and lodging to attend party.
• Would this be permissible under NCAA legislation?

Here’s the NCAA answer:

• Under Bylaw this would not be permissible.
• The standard for such cases involving benefits provided to a current student-athlete from a former teammate should be whether the type of benefit provided is consistent with what was provided when the donor and recipient of the benefit were college teammates.

The only way this would appear to be permissible would be if Balmer had paid for such trips when he was still a UNC player. And that’s highly unlikely.

How much Austin, or UNC, would be penalized is hard to say. But in general, the NCAA is much more severe when there is a pattern of institutional abuse or when those involved are not truthful with NCAA investigators. Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant, for example, was suspended for all of 2009 after he lied to the NCAA about his relationship with Deion Sanders.

UNC is being ultra-careful in this case, referring all comments to athletics director Dick Baddour. Assistant coach John Blake, Austin and receiver Greg Little have not spoken to the media in preseason.

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