Jadeveon Clowney is essential to South Carolina's prospects in the SEC and BCS races in 2013. (Simon Bruty/SI)
By Zac Ellis
Brace yourselves, Gamecocks fans: South Carolina is looking into reports that star junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has been in contact with rapper and talent representative JAY Z.
WLTX in Columbia reports that the school is investigating the possibility after football site "Inside the League" posted a story claiming that Clowney has been in contact with JAY Z about joining the rapper's new talent agency, Roc Nation Sports. Clowney posted an article discussing the news on his Instagram account, which included a sentence saying, "You kno [sic] we about to turn up. Dream coming true." Clowney later deleted the post. South Carolina Assistant Director of Athletics for Media Relations, Steve Fink, told NFL.com that the school's compliance office is performing a "standard operating procedure."
As soon as the news surfaced, murmurs of NCAA eligibility issues swirled. But as SI.com's Stewart Mandel tweeted Tuesday, an NCAA violation would only occur if Clowney and JAY Z (or any other player representative) agreed to a deal or exchanged money.
ESPN's Chris Fowler asked Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier about Clowney's rumored contact with JAY Z during Spurrier's visit to the network's campus on Tuesday. The coach maintained that a policy is in place to prevent such interaction.
"All of our conversations [with Clowney] are wait until you have played your last game at South Carolina," Spurrier said. "When the bowl game is over this coming season he's free to accept any amount of money anybody wants to give him. But until then he has to be a student-athlete like all the other guys or he's not going to be eligible. He's done a good job of knowing that."
Clowney's eye has seemingly been on the NFL since spring practice. The star defensive end, who finished sixth in Heisman Trophy voting in 2012, might have been the first pick in the 2013 NFL draft this past April had he been eligible. Because of Clowney's near-certain NFL future, questions arose during spring practice as to whether the defender might sit out his entire junior season to avoid injury. Clowney denied those reports, though he did take out a $5 million insurance policy in March to protect against future earnings lost to injury.
JAY Z and Roc Nation Sports signed Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant to a deal earlier this summer. Clowney is expected to be a top pick in next year's NFL draft after completing his upcoming season at South Carolina.