Let me see if I’ve got this timeline straight:
- At the end of June last year, Laremy Tunsil gets in a tussle with his step-dad that stemmed from an argument they had about Tunsil “riding around with football agents” and is arrested as a result of the altercation.
- That, in and of itself, isn’t an issue with regard to Tunsil’s eligibility, as Tunsil can speak with certified NFL agents and still maintain his eligibility as long as he doesn’t accept any impermissible benefits or sign.
- In the face of that, Ole Miss remained calm. “We are aware that Laremy and his family have met with potential agents, which is within his NCAA rights as a student-athlete,” Freeze said in a statement to The Clarion-Ledger on Tuesday afternoon. “Regarding the altercation, we will continue to gather facts and cooperate with the proper authorities.”
- Nevertheless, in an abundance of caution, the school elected to sit Tunsil for the first six games of the 2015 season. Then, in mid-October, the NCAA issued a seven-game suspension that allowed him to return against Texas A&M on Oct. 24. The suspension wasn’t tied to receiving benefits from an agent or signing with an agent, but it was made clear that Tunsil received impermissible financial benefits from third parties and “was not completely forthcoming when initially questioned by NCAA investigators”.
Whew. I mention all of that to set up what Mark Schlabach and Nicole Noren report about Tunsil’s camp investigating the source of the embarrassing leaks on the evening of the NFL draft that cost Tunsil some money as his draft stock sunk.
Tunsil, a former All-American offensive tackle at Ole Miss, hired a man to work as his business manager and financial adviser in mid-October, about two-and-a-half months before his junior season with the Rebels ended, according to the sources. The man scheduled agents’ meetings with Tunsil and his mother, Desiree Polingo, and handled other duties for him.
Tunsil fired the business manager after other agents informed Tunsil that the man wasn’t licensed or registered to work as a financial adviser but was a “runner,” a term used to describe someone who gives money and other benefits to a player in order to entice the player to sign with an agent or financial adviser with whom the runner is working.
The sources said the business manager gave Tunsil a new cell phone in mid-October. People close to Tunsil believe the man might have accessed Tunsil’s social media accounts Thursday by logging into them through his old phone.
So while Tunsil was on suspension for accepting improper financial benefits, he takes on a business manager/adviser whom he then cans when he suddenly discovers it’s a no-no to deal with “someone who gives money and other benefits to a player”. Are we really expected to buy that? More to the point, are we supposed to believe that Ole Miss bought that? Or was the school into full don’t ask, don’t tell mode by then, hoping to ride things out until season’s end?
And now, Team Tunsil is reportedly in hot pursuit of this guy. So I wonder, what happens if they manage to finger him and turn their evidence over to authorities? For one thing, do you think the NCAA might want to discuss things with this person?
College players cannot hire agents, per NCAA rules, while they are playing or undeclared for a professional league’s draft. The NCAA has rules that broadly define what an “agent” is, and those rules can include people acting as financial advisers to players. An NCAA official declined comment to Outside the Lines about whether it is investigating anything related to Tunsil’s former business manager/financial adviser, citing policy that prohibits it from commenting on current, pending or potential investigations.
I guess the NCAA might, after all. And it’s Tunsil’s folks that are apparently driving the bus that might make that possible. Makes you wonder if Hugh Freeze has spoken with his agent about that yet.