NMSU’s Odd Secondary Violation

The Las Cruces Sun-News did a relatively standard profile of New Mexico State’s compliance office. But within the Sun-News profile was a discussion about this secondary violation:

Doña Ana County Detention records show the assistant, Paul Weir, made the $500 payment to bail [Tyrone] Watson, a former starter he recruited to NMSU five years ago. That, on its face, breaks an NCAA rule, a veteran compliance official from a Pac 12 school said, but is only considered a minor violation.

That would not be noteworthy except for the fact that the money came from Watson:

In his review, Cartwright said he wasn’t looking at the issue of guaranteeing bond – because it was Watson’s money – but at another minor infraction: the assistance in payment of bills, which is also barred, even when the funds come from the student-athlete’s pocket.

When Ohio State was going through its investigation and major infractions case for the tattoo/memorabilia scandal, there was a lot of discussion about “the hook-up”, essentially the little benefits here and there athletes could get as a result of his celebrity. A free meal here, a free pair of shoes there, discounts around town. Relatively harmless unless the result of a concerted effort and almost impossible to police either way.

This is another example of a type of benefit that might be so naturally connected to being an athlete that it might be impossible to prohibit or monitor. Athletes spend so much time on their sport and academics that many legitimately may not have time to handle the paying of rent and utilities, or getting groceries. While staffing makes this a haves vs. have-not issue, as long as the athletes’ own money is being used, there are fewer recruiting or extra benefit concerns.

The counterargument would be that college should be a place where athletes learn these skills rather than a place where someone takes care of them for athletes. If you believe athletes already have an overinflated sense of entitlement when they arrive on campus, having a coach or staff member handle the paying of bills and other personal tasks is unlikely to help that issue.

Posted on by John Infante
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