Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was suspended for a violation of team rules according to Alabama head coach Nick Sa
ban on Wednesday. But Thursday, multiple outlets including the Tuscaloosa News reported that the violation was one of not just team but NCAA rules. Clinton-Dix received a small loan from Corey Harris, an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Crimson Tide who is now on administrative leave. Harris is also believed to have connections to a sports agent as well.
Despite the potential for Harris to be classified by the NCAA as an agent, which typically leads to longer suspensions for athletes who accept benefits, Clinton-Dix is unlikely to be suspended for very long. But the circumstances of the loan suggest that the entire situation could have been avoided:
Harris made a short-term loan to Clinton-Dix in an amount less than $500, after Clinton-Dix’s car was broken into on the night of June 25 or the morning of June 26.
According to the police report obtained by the Tuscaloosa News, numerous items were stolen from Clinton-Dix’s car including an iPad, cash, apparel, and subwoofers.
If the loan was made to Clinton-Dix in order to pay for some of the lost items or damage to his vehicle, his biggest error was asking the wrong person in Alabama’s athletic department.
If an athlete suffers a misfortune such as having his or her car or home broken into and robbed, the institution has multiple options to help the student-athlete out. One is the Student Assistance Fund, the combination of the old Student-Athlete Opportunity and Special Assistance Funds. That is money which comes from the NCAA to pay for these types of misfortune or emergency expenses.
But institutions do not even need to dip into the limited SAF funds when athletes are robbed. The NCAA has a set of pre-approved incidental expenses waivers. These are waivers for expenses that the institution can cover out of the general budget which were so common that the NCAA does not require the institution to submit a waiver application. The university simply pays the expense for the athlete, then files some paperwork with their conference that they used the waiver. Included in the pre-approved incidental expense waivers are:
- Expenses to replace lost or stolen items (for example, jewelry, clothing, money) that were stolen while thestudent was participating in intercollegiate athletics (police report required).
- Expenses to replace stolen essential items (for example, dorm or apartment key, identification cards, textbooks), regardless of athletics participation (police report required).
- Expenses to repair student-athlete’s automobile, which was vandalized during an away-from-home contest when the automobile was parked in a lot used by student-athletes when they travel.
Even if a pre-approved waiver does not fit the exact situation, like the car repair being limited to damage incurred during a road trip, they are great jumping off points to file a more traditional waiver.
Part of the irony of Clinton-Dix’s situation is that his “extra benefit” was actually a worse deal than he might have gotten if he had stopped by the compliance office first. Instead of getting a loan that might cost him a suspension, he may have gotten money to replace everything that was stolen and fix his car completely within NCAA rules.