Why secondary violations have become a key recruiting tool
Shortly after 9 p.m. central time on May 30, patrons at Auburn, Ala., bar Bodega watched as rolls of toilet paper sailed toward a tree across the street. In Auburn, airborne Charmin has a special meaning, so naturally, a few people asked the obvious question: Did we win something?
The more Internet-savvy in the crowd probably knew why so many people had gathered to watch Auburn football recruits and players roll a tree at Toomer's Corner -- mimicking the traditional celebration for a major Auburn sports victory. Someone had leaked to the message boards on Auburn fan sites that the grand finale of the Tigers' "Big Cat Weekend" would take place on the corner of campus directly opposite Toomer's Drugs. Dozens of fans showed. So did reporters from the
Some of the fan sites shot video as well, but some of those videos mysteriously disappeared early this week after others began asking questions about whether the very public celebration violated NCAA bylaw 13.10.5, which states "...prospective student-athletes may not participate in team activities that would make the public or media aware of the prospective student-athlete's visit to the institution."
The secondary violation has become one of the best recruiting tools in a coach's arsenal because, thanks to an insatiable media, every secondary violation that comes to light offers a massive publicity boost. Auburn, a program most of the nation ignored after coach
Unless the NCAA stiffens the penalties for these violations, it may behoove programs in need of buzz to commit them. Consider the fact that the most interesting stories to come out of Washington this spring were about the program's new attitude under coach
We also can't forget Tennessee, which has ridden a tide of secondary violations to national prominence in coach
Some of the rules are silly. Others are not. The ban on "gameday simulations" makes no sense. Shouldn't a recruit be allowed to judge which school has the best gameday atmosphere? And shouldn't an LSU, Penn State or Oregon reap the benefits of fostering a superior gameday atmosphere? The ban on publicizing recruits, however, is absolutely essential. Without it, the schools with the biggest media machines would crush the others. Also, some of the less scrupulous coaches might throw out misinformation about a player to keep other schools away.
At the moment, the rules aren't the issue. It's the punishment. The NCAA manual allows for harsh sanctions for schools that commit secondary violations, including scholarship reductions, the termination of an athlete's recruitment or vacation of victories for games in which an ineligible athlete played. Rarely are those penalties applied, however. Plus, it may prove difficult to parse the intentional secondary violations from the unintentional, which should be punished with a light hand.
The NCAA's recruiting and personnel issues cabinet will meet next week, but don't expect an examination of the secondary violation conundrum. "I would be surprised if that issue was discussed very much," said Georgia Tech athletic director
Eventually, coaches who don't break the rules will have to push their athletic directors and presidents to call for tougher penalties, because in the age of bloggers and the 24-hour news cycle, the attention given to schools who break the little rules in recruiting only will increase. If the rule-abiding coaches want to keep their colleagues from benefitting, they'll have to complain the loudest.
Failing that, they could just rent a smoke machine.
Sammamish (Wash.) quarterback
"This whole press conference wasn't about me. It was about these guys," Heaps told
The fact that BYU is a non-BCS school makes Thursday's haul doubly impressive. Heaps, who has led Skyline High to a 28-0 record and two state titles as a starter, received offers from across the country (check out this
All three players are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but according to the Provo-based