Today the Publisher of Auburn Rivals site AuburnSports.com, Jeffrey Lee, leveled allegations on Mobile radio station WNSP - and the message board of his own site - of possible recruiting impropriety involving a recent signee of another school’s football program.
The allegations concerned extra benefits provided to the player by a person Lee characterized on WNSP-AM this morning as “a guy who is very, very involved with the athletics department” at a rival school. Though Lee was explicit throughout the radio interview in reiterating that the alleged benefactor was not a booster of the school but a “supporter.”Lee on WNSP:
It’s not a booster, it’s not an alumni of [rival school] but it’s a guy who is very, very involved with the athletics department up there. He’s taken [accused recruit] to [school city] several times before.
Allegations are out there that he has made cash payments to [accused recruit’s father].
That’s just one of what was a litany of serious and oft-specific allegations made today by Lee against the rival school “supporter”, who the AuburnSports.com reporter later called “a big fan, who is extremely involved I guess you could say in [rival school] football.”
From page 84 of the current NCAA rules handbook, here is the NCAA bylaw that defines what confirms a person as a booster - or “representative of Athletic interests“:
13.02.14 Representative of Athletics interests. A “representative of the institution’s athletics interests” is an individual, independent agency, corporate entity (e.g., apparel or equipment manufacturer) or other organization who is known (or who should have been known) by a member of the institution’s executive or athletics administration to: (Revised: 2/16/00)
(a) Have participated in or to be a member of an agency or organization promoting the institution’s intercollegiate athletics program;
(b) Have made financial contributions to the athletic sdepartment or to an athletics booster organization of that institution;
(c) Be assisting or to have been requested (by the athletics department staff) to assist in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes;
(d) Be assisting or to have assisted in providing benefits to enrolled student-athletes or their families; or (e) Have been involved otherwise in promoting the institution’s athletics program.
During the WNSP interview Lee said, again, of the alleged provider of extra benefits to the recruit of a rival school:
“He not an alumni, he’s not a booster, he’s just a big fan, who is extremely involved I guess you could say in [rival school] football.”
By Lee’s own definition, the alleged benefactor in question is indisputably - based on NCAA rules - a booster.
So while it may seem a little ridiculous that I’m not naming the alleged “supporter”, athlete and school in question, it’s equally ridiculous for Lee to refuse to acknowledge the alleged benefactor for what he obviously is: A booster.
But why is Lee doing that?
The AuburnSports.com reporter clearly understands the absolutely critical distinction between a “booster” and a “supporter.” If the NCAA classifies the benefactor as a “booster,” the rival school could face significantly harsher NCAA sanctions if what Lee claims about the situation is true.
Lee also knows that if he called the accused benefactor a “booster” and his allegations are untrue, his comments on WNSP and AuburnSports.com may be legally actionable by the accused. Calling the benefactor a “supporter” limits Lee’s legal exposure.
Because the very basis of Lee’s claim is - by design - false, it’s impossible to view the veracity of Lee’s allegations as anything but, at least for now,