Did LSU violate NCAA rules and pay Shaq?
Shaquille O’Neal, who is as well known for his sound bites as his play on the court, raised eyebrows recently by alleging that LSU violated NCAA rules and paid him to play basketball in college. Shaq told Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.
Shaq on his years at LSU: “Yes, they paid very well.” Then he added, “Hey, the statute of limitations is up” He was laughing.
Although Shaq apparently said these comments in jest, these allegations are no laughing matter for the LSU Tigers.
Can the NCAA punish LSU for paying Shaq?
After a quick (and very fun) analysis of the legalese in the NCAA Manual, it appears as though Shaq is correct and the statute of limitations has passed:
“Allegations included in a notice of allegations shall be limited to possible violations occurring not earlier than four years before the date the notice of inquiry is provided to the institution or the date the institution notifies (or, if earlier, should have notified) the enforcement staff of its inquiries into the matter.”
However, there are exceptions to this rule. Specifically, the NCAA Manual states in one bylaw that an institution can be punished after the statute of limitations if they demonstrate a “blatant disregard for the Association’s fundamental recruiting, extra benefit, academic or ethical-conduct bylaws or that involve an effort to conceal the occurrence of the violation.”
Shaq’s claims, if true, could certainly be construed as a ‘blatant disregard’ of the NCAA’s bylaws. The NCAA has a year to review such a case and there is still a possibility that they could open an investigation and punish the Tigers.
Shaq might get current basketball players in trouble
Shaq’s loose lips could end up harming the reputation of LSU freshman phenom Ben Simmons, the premier player in college basketball.
Simmons, who could have played anywhere, chose to sign with LSU, a school that has only made the NCAA Tournament seven times in the 20 years since Shaq left for the NBA. The motivation behind that decision, which seemed perfectly innocent a few months ago, can now be questioned due to Shaq’s comments.
Shaquille O’Neal became a media darling by speaking his mind and opening up, but he shouldn’t have acknowledged what may or may not have happened 20 years. Shaq’s words will have no repercussions for him yet LSU and a 19 year-old amateur athlete may have to face the consequences for The Big Aristotle’s shortsightedness.