July 22, 2010

Winning the Heisman Trophy apparently makes a college football player a big enough star to show up on TMZ.com's radar.

The celebrity gossip site's fledgling sports division reported Thursday that Alabama junior tailback Mark Ingram, who won the school's first Heisman last season while leading the Crimson Tide to the BCS title, is in the NCAA's crosshairs for attending a party for recent NFL draftees at District nightclub in Washington on May 12. The site included a photo of Ingram with Joe Haden, the former Florida cornerback drafted in the first round by the Cleveland Browns. At issue is who paid for Ingram to attend the party.

According to Alabama spokesman Jeff Purinton, Ingram paid, and the NCAA already knew that.

Purinton said that before Ingram took the trip, Ingram asked Alabama's compliance office for permission to visit Haden. The compliance office contacted the NCAA, and Alabama officials were told Ingram could take the trip as long as he submitted proof he paid his own expenses. "They said it was permissible as long as Mark paid and provided receipts," Purinton said. "Mark did that."

It is unclear whether any other current college players attended the party. The NCAA is investigating whether several players attended a party at LIV nightclub in Miami Beach, Fla., on May 28. One player, North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin, posted a message about the South Beach party on his Twitter account at 3:07 a.m. on May 29.

Austin, who is from Washington, was in the District of Columbia in the days prior to the party, according to photos posted to his TweetPhoto account. On May 10, he visited Georgetown Cupcakes and posted a photo of a dozen baked delights. Later that day, Austin posted a $143 (before tip) bill from a Cheesecake Factory in Washington. On May 12, the day of the party, Austin posted a photo of himself receiving a pedicure. It is unclear whether Austin -- or his toes -- were still in Washington at the time the photo was taken.

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