Image by Jim Hipple
Let's start with the basics here. I have it on decent authority beyond simply AJ Green's statement at SEC Media Days that he was in fact in South Carolina when the problematic party was happening in Miami. So that's good. That comes from someone in our network who personally saw him.
But let's get to the bigger issues at play here. This year the NCAA expanded its enforcement staff for men's basketball and football. Of particular interest are agents, runners and third parties that are funneling kids to different universities or funneling benefits to specific players prior to going pro. For a look at the special group of investigators going after basketball handlers pre-enrollment, you can view this NCAA presentation talking about what they are looking for.
Anyway, the NCAA is trying to reign in the spending pre and post enrollment on kids. If you actually read the Reggie Bush / OJ Mayo NCAA findings, it reads as a cautionary tale to other athletic departments. It's basically a warning shot to the rest of big-time basketball and football that the NCAA cops are coming.
The Marvin Austin / Miami Agent Party is simply the first high-profile opportunity to put that enforcement staff into action.
But why now? Why go after the cheating more now? One could argue that it's because there's more cheating going on. But I also wonder if the timing is also reflective of the upcoming NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement. The NCAA wants to put pressure on the NFLPA and the NFL Owners (via bad PR related to agents/runners) to ban agents who tamper with players. Could the NCAA be trying to put that kind of language and conversation on the table as part of the negotiations?
Also, I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure that not every state has Agent Tampering (wrong verbiage) laws like Florida does. After the Tank Black saga at UF in the 90s, the State of Florida legislature attached criminal penalties to agents who provide certain incentives to college athletes.
The current Miami Party investigation is sort of a perfect storm for the NCAA. A chance to flex it's expanded enforcement muscle pre-NFL negotiations in a state where there are harsher penalties for the alleged activities during a time where the college football writers are ramping their attention to the sport back up (pre-Media Days).
I think we walk away clean on this particular issue. But the NCAA is definitely looking for more opportunities to make examples of schools.