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April 10, 2004

Showing Recruits A Good Time


FROM THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF SOBER HINDSIGHT comes analysis of the unseemly aftermath of college football sex recruiting scandals.

There is no magic in figuring out how to capture the attention of young, impressionable, coming-of-age alpha males. Access to—and having their way with—pliant young females is way high on the list.

Depending on who you believe, some studies have shown that most young adult males think about sex—either consciously or subconsciously—50 times per day. For the subset of males who are center-of-the-universe, sought-after football recruits, the number is probably 100 times per day.

Many of these prized recruits lack the money, experience, savvy and opportunity to satisfy their not fully developed urges. So it’s no wonder that many of them are positively wowed by the co-ed gallery of adoration that colleges strategically orchestrate for recruiting visits.

The current fuzzy rules set down by the NCAA have led to opportunistic interpretation by some imaginative—and less than scrupulous—football programs. Not unlike the infamous definition of “is” that our nation was subjected to a few years ago, the NCAA’s bylaw 13.5.1 refers vaguely to recruiting entertainment allowable only to that of “normal student life.”

Ahem.

Ambiguity like this leaves too much to the interpretation.

The accused schools would have us believe that they would be at a competitive disadvantage if they were to refrain from pushing the limits on the interpretation of “normal student life.”

Ahem.

And what if a campus is a certified party school? Is the “norm” then Party Hearty? And if your school is ranked the #1 party school—as Colorado was so dubbed by the Princeton Review—does that automatically translate to recruiting hospitality up (er, down) to the standards of that partying title?

NCAA spokesperson Kay Hawes says, “You can’t legislate everything, so there has to be some judgment involved.”

Ahem.

No, not everything, but how about we start with alcohol, drugs, strip clubs, unsupervised parties and forced sex? How about an 11 PM curfew? How about holding coaching staffs accountable, and not allowing them to say, “I didn’t know what was going on.”

Here’s part of what happened in the Minnesota scandal. Blue chip high school recruit Lydon Murtha a 6-foot-8 inch, 315-pounder, made a recruiting visit to the Minnesota campus in December. Murtha seemed almost a shoo-in to attend U of M; he had verbally committed and his hometown was just an hour away.

Murtha’s football player hosts took him to an alcohol-free strip club as part of their demonstration of “normal student life.” Murtha was negatively impressed, and he later signed with Nebraska.

When asked if a written manual exists for hosts of high school recruits, all Minnesota football coach Glen Mason could muster up was that he told his players to “do the right thing.”

Ahem.

Meanwhile, at ground zero of the sex scandal issue, beleaguered Colorado football coach Gary Barnett was quoted by Athletic Business to have told Denver’s KKFN-AM on Feb. 3, “Fire me, fire everybody, if we’ve done any of this stuff. We do not break rules—anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances.”

Ahem.

Since radio is an audio medium, we do not know if Barnett said that with a straight face. However, given the vagueness of the rules Barnett is referencing (i.e.-“normal student life” at the #1 party school), perhaps he truly believes that his players did nothing wrong.

Stay tuned.

(this 565 word excerpt—with added commentary—was distilled from a 1553 word article in the April issue of Athletic Business magazine)