Compliance and New ACC Stars

Not to beat a dead horse, but I can't resist one final take on the whole compliance mess. I will then devote the latter portion of this column on the new stars of the ACC that will take the field in 2001, but not before throwing my $0.02 on the table about Clemson's run-in with its own Compliance Department.

As many of you know, news recently broke in Clemson that the football program has been found guilty of secondary recruiting violations. After the NCAA responded back to Tiger Town that the violations were "secondary in nature," the Clemson administration has chosen to self-impose sanctions on Coach Bowden and the team, and I must say they are totally and grossly unreasonable in the eyes of this sportswriter. It's not like a typical citation for going 56 in a 55. NO!!! The penalty in this case is a $3,000 fine, 400 hours of community service, 20 consecutive hours of forced listening to John Tesh's musical talents, and a one-year suspension of your driving privileges.

To clarify, a secondary violation is one that provides only a limited recruiting or competitive advantage and that is isolated or inadvertent in nature. All other violations, specifically including those that provide an extensive recruiting or competitive advantage, are major violations.

So what are the sanctions?

1.) The number of official visits has been cut from the NCAA limit of 56 down to 42.

2.) One coach has been taken off the recruiting road so there will only be 6 recruiters off campus, while the maximum allowed under NCAA rules is 7.

3.) The May evaluation period of prospective recruits has been cut from 4 weeks to 3.

4.) The winter evaluation period has been cut from 6 weeks to 5.

5.) One football coach has had his salary frozen for 18 months.

6.) 3 members of the football staff were forced to attend an NCAA compliance seminar at their own expense.

7.) Lastly, as if that weren't enough, 2 scholarships have been revoked.

………ALL FOR SECONDARY VIOLATIONS, as deemed by the NCAA (remember: isolated incidents that provide little to no recruiting advantage).

To show you folks how truly ridiculous this is, I've tried to offer a little perspective by detailing my findings from similar recruiting violations and the resulting sanctions over the last several years. Possibly the biggest scandal in Notre Dame's storied football history occurred during this time period, whereby the school was found guilty of numerous major violations between the summer of 1994 and the summer of 1999, including sexual favors and lavish gifts for football players that were contrary to NCAA extra-benefits legislation.

As for scholarship restrictions, their punishment from the NCAA was a loss of one scholarship for 2 consecutive years. In addition, five student-athletes were declared ineligible, although all 5 regained their eligibility after appeal. Almost all the other sanctions, however, were not really sanctions at all, but more like preventative, time-consuming actions that were more of a nuisance, but not really punitive in nature.

During the 1999-2000 year, there were a total of 10 Division I schools found guilty of major violations. In addition to Notre Dame, the NCAA found Alabama, Kansas State, Wisconsin, California State-Fullerton, Purdue, Bucknell, and Michigan State guilty of major recruiting violations. Of those 10 schools sanctioned for major violations, 6 of them didn't even have a scholarship revoked, let alone 2 scholarships, so it's pretty easy to see why the decision for Clemson's Compliance Department to take away 2 ‘ships for secondary violations is nothing short of ludicrous.

Other schools aren't so harsh in their self-imposed sanctions. Georgia assistant Ron Garner was guilty of improper recruiting of a South Carolina cornerback 2 seasons ago, and his punishment was that he wasn't allowed to recruit the prospect for one week, after which time he was allowed to resume his recruitment of the prospect without any further penalties to him or the Georgia football program.

If I were Tommy Bowden, I would seriously consider finding another school to attempt a championship run; a school where the Department of Compliance is not on a mission to cut his legs out from under him. His father can't empathize with him either, as Bobby Bowden has not ever once had a single scholarship taken from him in his entire coaching career.

Now that I've finished my rant, let me briefly hit on the top 5 new "can't miss" stars in my opinion coming to an ACC football field near you:

1.) Chris Rix – The redshirt freshman quarterback will be asked to carry the Seminoles on his back this year. Before Chris Weinke, Bobby Bowden had never had a 3-year starter at quarterback. Rix has a unique chance to start every game of his collegiate career for Papa Bowden.

2.) Roscoe Crosby – The consensus #1 wide receiver in the nation from the 2001 class will be playing for Tommy Bowden in Tiger Town this season. He's so talented that Peter Gammons recently said the South Carolina centerfielder was the most talented position player available for the major league baseball draft earlier this month, projecting as high as the #3 overall pick if he committed only to baseball. Apparently the $4 million signing bonus he was projected to receive if he gave up the chance to play in front of 80,000+ fans just wasn't enough to dissuade him.

3.) Bryant McFadden – Only at Florida State could a kid rated as the #1 defensive back prospect in the nation (safety and cornerback) be redshirted. Such is the case with McFadden, as he redshirted the 2000 season, but he'll be ready to go this year, being next in the long, long line of great cornerbacks Mickey Andrews has produced at Florida State.

4.) Albert Poree – The cornerback who transferred to Georgia Tech from Notre Dame quickly earned a starting spot this spring and has awed Ted Roof and the rest of the Georgia Tech coaching staff. Poree will have a major impact on the Jacket secondary this year.

5.) Raymond Mann – A Parade All-American out of high school, Mann will provide a major boost to the Cavalier defense, which loses its 2000 starting linebacking corps of Byron Thweatt, Yubrenal Isabelle, and Donny Green to graduation. After being converted his redshirt freshman year to defensive end in George Welsh last year, he's been switched back to his natural position of linebacker under new Wahoo coach Al Groh. He'll be a gamebreaker, or rather a skull-breaker, one of the two.

Running back/Wide receiver Tramaine Hall at N.C. State was a close 6th. Someone needs to replace Koren Robinson as Philip Rivers' favorite target in Raleigh. I have a hunch it will be Hall. He'll be asked to fill the shoes of departed Eric Leak in the Wolfpack offense. After graduating early from high school and familiarizing himself with the State offense this spring in Raleigh, Hall should burst onto the scene. If Hall doesn't shine, it will be because either of 2001 signees Sterling Hicks or Chris Murray shines more brightly. One of those three is going to take the conference by storm. Although I have a hunch, right now I'm just not sure which one it will be, which is why none of the three is listed in my "can't miss" category.

I'll publish an article in much more detail later in the summer on the players to keep an eye on next year in the ACC.
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