Sunday ESPN’s award-winning Outside the Lines franchise aired a piece reported by Joe Schad in which the ESPN reporter employed a “gotcha” moment on a college football prospect and his summer 7 on 7 football coach.
But instead of victimizing his intended targets, Schad unwittingly outed the formal involvement of one of his colleagues in the very activity an NCAA enforcement official frowned upon in the same “OTL” report.
To leadoff his examination of the dubious NCAA nature of 7 on 7 football, Schad cited a photo taken on a 60-foot yacht that included the aforementioned prospect, DeonTay McManus of the “Next Level Nation (NLN)” 7 on 7 summer football team. The ESPN reporter also noted McManus’ coach, Cory Robinson, had knowledge of the photo and the activity that led to the image.
During separate interviews, Schad then confronted McManus and Robinson with the picture.
Though in attempting to shame McManus and Robinson for activity not yet proven to be against NCAA rules, Schad neglected to tell his ESPN audience that on the same webpage where that yacht photo was located was an image of ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr., accompanied by the message: “NLN Supporter Mel Kiper Jr. ESPN Draft Expert.”
The yacht and Kiper photos have since been removed from the webpage, but still show up via this Google cache link. (For now.)
After I watched the ESPN report and discovered Kiper’s photo on the NLN 7 on 7 team website, I quickly located a site called 7on7u.com that featured an entire 7 on 7 summer football concept co-branded with Mel Kiper Jr.’s likeness and active participation in promoting the venture.
(Images taken from front page of 7on7u.com on June 2, 2011)
It was as slick and professional a presentation I’ve seen involving all things 7 on 7 since I started tracking such ventures.
Kiper is seen in videos and promotional materials on the site touting something called, “Mel Kiper, Jr.’s 7 on 7 University” and the “Mel Kiper, Jr. 7 on 7 National Championship Series.”
You can even watch video of Kiper hosting and narrating a 7 on 7-based camp that took place just last week at a high school in Virginia. (May 22, 2011.)
So what was Kiper’s reaction to Schad’s hit piece on the same NCAA-targeted enterprise in which he’s obviously invested a significant amount of time and effort?
At the end of the ESPN.com post detailing Schad’s OTL report, this passage was added after the piece initially aired on ESPN television:
Editor’s note: ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has had involvement with a national 7-on-7 tournament, but he is no longer involved.
I initially did not report on Kiper’s involvement in an activity NCAA Director of Agent, Gambling and Amateurism Rachel Newman-Baker said in Schad’s report could “jeopardize the (NCAA) eligibility” of individuals participating in it.
That changed though when I discovered today, five days later, that Kiper still has a presence on the 7on7u.com website and its accompanying social networking sites - including Facebook. Here’s a screen shot of the official “Mel Kiper Jr. 7on7u National Championship Series” Facebook page on June 2, 2011 at 7:00pm PT:
Perhaps, like so many other NCAA member institutions in the past, “Mel Kiper, Jr. 7 on 7 University” figures the intercollegiate governing body will give him a pass.
Wouldn’t be the first time.
Safe now to assume “Willie Lyles 7 on 7 University” won’t be far behind?