Back around the time of this year's NFL Draft, defensive end Quinton Coples was photographed in Washington D.C. at a party celebrating Marvin Austin and Robert Quinn's success in the draft. Coming as it did amidst an NCAA investigation into, among other things, players being illicitly compensated for travel by former teammates in the NFL, I was less than pleased:
The Coples thing is infuriating all-around of course. After seeing teammates miss games because of trips pro players invited them on, and the NCAA specifically warning players to avoid draft parties, to take that trip indicates either the most careful planning or reckless obliviousness I've seen from a football player in quite sometime.
Well the verdict is in, and Quinton Coples is a very, very good planner. The NCAA found that Coples had paid for everything himself, and there was no hint of violation.
Pulling back a bit, it's worth pointing out that what Coples did is a perfectly normal thing outside of college football. He was celebrating college friends getting high-paying jobs. If I had done the same thing in college as a non-athlete, no one would have thought twice. (Alas, most of my friends seemed to become teachers, and I graduated during a recession.) But because of the money sloshing around the sport, there's a high probability of impropriety here. And were it not against NCAA regulations, it would be abused; don't forget, all these insanely frustrating rules are in place because some school, somewhere, has considered funneling large sums of cash to its recruits by this method. These things aren't going to be tweaked to rationality; eventually something big is going to have to change.