Two freshman on the No. 1 ranked Indiana basketball team – 6-8 forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea and 7-0 center Peter Jurkin – have been suspended for nine games each by the NCAA for receiving impermissible benefits. This is a relatively common suspension these days, with strict rules governing what an athlete-student can or cannot receive and the NCAA handing down sanctions by the letter of the law. Except this suspension isn’t quite like others of its kind.
First, some background information before we get started. Mosquera-Perea and Jurkin lived with their AAU coach and legal guardian Mark Adams throughout their high school careers. Adams is the 54-year-old founder of A-HOPE (African Hoop Opportunities Providing an Education), an organization that brings foreign basketball players to the states and tries to get them enrolled in college. The origin of the suspensions begins with Adams, but A-HOPE is not at all involved. No, this extends way back when – 26 years ago, to be exact. Adams claims that his wife wrote yearly $30 checks to Indiana from 1986-1992, totaling $185 when all was said and done. What for, you ask? IU bumper stickers.
But that was 20+ years ago, right? Correct. Except according to NCAA rules, the “donation” qualifies Adams as an Indiana “booster.” And as everyone knows, boosters can’t hand out any type of “benefit” to recruits or current athlete-students. Except the tricky part is also the most baffling, because apparently that booster status has neither an expiration date nor a minimum dollar amount. So when Adams bought those bumper stickers eons ago, he forever labeled himself a booster.
The NCAA therefore determined during the course of their investigation that the $9,702 and $6,003 given to Mosquera-Perea and Jurkin respectively (for plane tickets, meals, cell phones etc. – all the necessary fixings for a big time basketball recruit) weren’t actually the kind, legally permissible handouts of a concerned guardian. No, Adams was still somehow a booster, 20 years after he had ceased any sort of financial affiliation with the university. Not to mention that his “affiliation” was buying bumper stickers.
But the NCAA, being the sanctimonious hand of injustice that it is, laid down the letter of the law.
Via the AP:
“Despite the minimal nature of Mr. Adams’ donations, and the fact that the last donation he made was more than 15 years before he provided expenses to a prospective student-athlete who enrolled at the institution,” the NCAA wrote in its letter to the school. “Mr. Adams must be considered a representative of the institution’s athletics interests.”
Besides the nine-game suspensions, Mosquera-Parea needs to pay back $1,590 and Jurkin $250 as part of their punishment.
We could delve into various philosophical arguments concerning the legal boundaries of an entity like the NCAA, pointing out hypocrisy and demanding change, but we’re not looking to chase our tails. No, instead we’ll shake our heads and hope that these suspensions get reversed upon appeal. I mean, really? Bumper stickers?