New Mexico men’s basketball student-athlete Jamal Fenton was recently suspended for three games for an NCAA violation. Yesterday details of the violation were obtained by the Albuquerque Journal. The violation stemmed from a discount Fenton received while renting out a ballroom for his 21st birthday party:
“Not knowing I already got the discount, (the hotel sales representative) told me the price and it sounded like a good price for me,” Fenton wrote in an April 25 email to the UNM compliance office after the violation was brought to his attention. Fenton paid $500 for a ballroom that ultimately could have gone to any member of the public for $750.
New Mexico head coach Steve Alford called the penalty overly harsh. But it is consistent with NCAA guidelines where a violation involving an extra benefit from $100 to $300 carries with it a penalty of repayment and withholding the student-athlete (suspension) of 10% of the season, which works out to three games for a basketball season.
Fenton was also unfortunate to stumble on a violation in an area that is becoming an increasing problem for the NCAA: large parties involving student-athletes. Fenton’s self-hosted birthday party was probably not by itself a problem, but it certainly could have been lumped into the growing trend of student-athletes throwing parties for profit or appearing at parties or club events for compensation (cash or free goods and services).