Yahoo Sports is reporting that five SEC players received “impermissible benefits” through a former Crimson Tide player named Luther Davis. The players — Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray, Tennessee defensive end Maurice Couch, Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and Mississippi State wideout Chad Bumphis — were given thousands of dollars under the table by a number of NFL agents and financial advisers with Davis acting as the intermediary.
There are tons of documents, including text messages and receipts, tying these players to transactions that total at least $45,000. All told, it looks like yet another huge scandal for the NCAA in the wake of Sports Illustrated’s massive OSU investigation.
Once again, however, we see that most of the “benefits” that these unpaid student-athletes received were mostly used for life expenses that they couldn’t afford otherwise. Among the benefits listed:
-D.J. Fluker received a bedroom set paid for by Davis in August 2012. Fluker, who helped the Crimson Tide win two straight national championships, grew up with an abusive father and didn’t sleep in a bed by himself until he was 15. He lived in a car for three weeks after Hurricane Katrina, His apartment was destroyed by a tornado in 2011.
-Fluker’s girlfriend received a free ticket to the 2013 National Championship game because she couldn’t afford one herself.
-Tyler Bray had a “burger night” with the “krew,” which included a reported booster. He got a VOL burger, with bacon.
There were some costlier benefits — airfare, for example — but all told it appears the dirty money was mainly used for every day expenses, not for funding lavish lifestyles. When the nation’s top players are pulling in millions for their universities and then offered enough money to buy a bed or have a nice meal, they would be crazy not to take it.
This report isn’t so much a condemnation of the players for breaking the rules, as it is for the NCAA having these ridiculous standards in the first place. Mark Emmert sleeps soundly and flies right and eats well every night — why shouldn’t the guys who get him paid do the same?
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