Daily Archives: March 1, 2015
A couple of fallout matters from the LSU recruiting sanctions that occurred as a result of an offensive lineman changing his commitment after signing a financial aid agreement.
First, Miles and his staff had an inkling that there might be issues with contact.
FAAs are only meant for those planning to enroll early. His decommitment and commitment to Alabama came more than a month later.
“LSU knew there was a very good chance Matt wouldn’t enroll early,” the family member said.
LSU’s staff treated Womack like a regular prospect in the first few weeks after he signed the FAA. Coaches played it safe, not risking illegal contact. After all, what if the lineman decided against enrolling early or decommitted?
“For the longest, they were only talking to him through Twitter, which was something they could do legally without the FAA,” the source said. “Somewhere in the process, I guess they felt like they needed to turn up the heat, and that’s when they started texting and calling and stuff like that.”
Miles’ visit came a few days later as the Tigers worked to convince Womack to enroll early, as he originally had planned. He declined, and LSU’s compliance called the Womacks shortly after the visit, telling them that “all contact was cut off” between the staff and Womack.
The horse was already out of the barn by then, of course. But that goes to show that this wasn’t some huge surprise coming out of the confusion of interpreting a new NCAA rule. The implication of that seems pretty clear to me – there was an intention by the NCAA to put the brakes on FAA-only deals.
In any case, nobody can say they weren’t warned now. Which leads to another concern…
Southeastern Louisiana coach Ron Roberts, a 25-year coaching veteran, called the ruling “pretty ridiculous” and said the sanctions are likely to deter coaches from signing prospects to financial aid agreements.
“What have you done to the early signing period?” he said, a question directed at the game’s governing body, the NCAA.
An official early signing period for football is expected to be approved by conference commissioners this spring and will be instituted this fall for a two-year trial period. The 72-hour window in mid-December would allow prospects to sign a binding National Letter of Intent.
The early period would not do away with the financial aid agreement. Early enrollees will still be able to sign FAAs on Aug. 1 of their senior years, granting the school or schools to which they sign unlimited contact until their enrollment.
Pete Boone, the former Ole Miss athletic director, said there should be no early signing date in football at all.
“It’s pretty clear that if you do sign somebody in August and if they’re not going to show up, then you know you’re taking a risk at that now,” he said of the FAA. “Kids nowadays … the problem is there shouldn’t be an early signing date.”
This one I’m not sure I’m getting. I presume the early signing period will involve NLIs. If that’s the case, other schools can’t contact the kid and he would lose a year of eligibility if he chose to renege afterwards. Am I missing something?
I mentioned the other day I hope whatever quarterback controversy exists between Fauta, Park and Ramsey gets settled by the time spring practice concludes, so that there’s plenty of time to build chemistry and familiarity around the position. For another viewpoint, here’s Cam Cameron, LSU’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach:
Q: Is it vital that you have a clear-cut No. 1 quarterback coming out of spring?
A: “In the NFL, I’d say ‘yes’ but in college I’d say ‘no.’ I’m not speaking for Les, but college players can improve so much in the summer and through a fall camp. Game experience is the true test.”
Take that for what it’s worth. Cameron has the perspective of coaching on both levels, but it’s not exactly as if game experience revealed a competent starting quarterback for him last season. Although since he refers to improvement in practice, what exactly does he mean by “game experience” there?
My real question is whether Brian Schottenheimer, who’s following in Cameron’s footsteps experience-wise, shares a similar sentiment. Under Richt, Georgia hasn’t made an in season call on a starter at the position other than in 2006, but the situation that season and what the staff faces in 2015 couldn’t be more different. My guess is we won’t hear much until spring practice is well underway. And you’ll only hear thinking like Cameron’s if nobody steps forward to separate himself at the position for the coaches.
So this happened.
The Oklahoma controversy began on Nov. 28 during a quarterfinal battle between Frederick A. Douglass High School and Locust Grove High School. Douglass scored an apparent touchdown on a 58-yard pass to take a lead over favored Locust Grove with just over a minute left in the game. However, a referee penalized Douglass, saying that one of the team’s coaches had impeded a referee on the sideline. The officials negated the touch-down rather than impose the correct penalty, either a 5-yard loss on the ensuing extra-point attempt or on the kickoff. The referee’s blunder cost Douglass the game.
The state high school athletic association ruled the game complete and upheld the high school team’s loss.
So this happened.
The Oklahoma City Public Schools District, within which Douglass is located, sued the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association in Oklahoma County District Court. The school district contended that the official’s interpretation of the association’s rules was unreasonable and arbitrary, and it sought the remedy of replaying either the game’s last few minutes or the entire game.
The court denied the relief, reasoning as follows:
“There is neither statute nor case law allowing this court discretion to order the replaying of a high school football game,” Jones concluded, adding: “This slippery slope of solving athletic contests in court instead of on campus will inevitably usher in a new era of robed referees and meritless litigation due to disagreement with or disdain for decisions of gaming officials—an unintended consequence which hurts both the court system and the citizens it is designed to protect.”
That’s nothing new, as one sports law expert explains.
Experts support Jones’ reasoning. “The decision in the Oklahoma case was absolutely the correct decision,” says sports business scholar Marc Edelman, who teaches at the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, part of the City University of New York. “These types of cases happen from time to time, but usually these cases don’t get very far. Courts take the general view that they should not interfere with decisions of private associations.”
“As a general rule, the hands-off policy is excellent because courts would become burdened and the dockets would be clogged,” Edelman says. “Courts also lack the experience to evaluate the minutiae of associations’ internal rules unless there are allegations of bad faith or clear violations of federal or state law.”
Yet, says Tim Davis, a law professor at Wake Forest University who teaches sports law, “because of the increase in the recording of athletic events—but under circumstances where referees do not have access to video review—we may see a few more lawsuits of this nature. I doubt, however, that we’ll see many.”
However, Davis says, many of these lawsuits arise not only because of the litigious nature of society “but perhaps more importantly because of the interests at stake. For example, a loss of athletic eligibility may compromise an athlete’s opportunity to receive a college athletic scholarship.” He says there are “a substantial number of lawsuits that challenge high school associations’ decisions involving other matters such as student-athlete eligibility.”
Hoo, boy. It’s not as if either of those conditions doesn’t exist in college football these days. One of these days, a bad call will cost a school a shot at the CFP and somebody’s going to be angry enough about it to go to court. And with forum shopping being what it is these days, there’s bound to be a judge out there who’s sympathetic enough to throw a monkey wrench into the works, at least for the short-term. That’ll be fun to watch.
Boy, if you think I’m cynical about the “let’s do it for the kids’ academics” angle being pitched in some quarters as a justification for reinstating freshman ineligibility, I don’t hold a candle to what’s expressed in this piece. I bring that up because there’s a quote in it worth highlighting:
Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke said he believes in the NCAA policy that prohibited freshmen participation before a 1972 reversal.
“I, for one ,as a Big Ten AD, am tired of being used as a minor league for professional sports,” Burke said. “What was right for the NCAA in the first 70 years of its history, maybe we ought to go back and say, ‘What’s changed?’”
Among Big Ten leaders, he said, a consensus exists to “get education back on the proper platform.”
For those of you who buy the sentiment, here’s a question. Prior to 1972, were student-athletes’ collegiate academic performances superior to what they are now?