UConn, ESPN, Run Afoul of NCAA With Recruitment of Maya Moore

UConn Womens’ Basketballl Team

Photo found at www.uconnhuskies.com 

Shelly Smith of ESPN.com has reported that the University of Connecticut violated NCAA rules during the recruitment of freshman forward Maya Moore.  The alleged violation reportedly arises from a tour of ESPN headquarters, in Bristol, arranged by the UConn basketball staff.  Smith cited a source who indicated that the tour of Bristol’s most famous commercial resident’s digs constituted an impermissible benefit (i.e. a benefit not available to all students).  A few points on this alleged violation, which has been described as a “secondary violation:”

  •  ESPN is one of the major off-campus points of interest in the Storrs/Greater Hartford Area.  I’m sure that recruits at Fairfield University are taken to the beach area; just as recruits at NYU are probably taken on a tour of New York City and the Empire State Building.  What is wrong with showing a recruit the attractions in the area that the recruit must live for the next 4 to 5 years?
  • The notion that athletes cannot receive benefits that are not available to all students is laughable.  When a prospective student non-athlete visits UConn, he or she is unlikely to be brought into the football or basketball stadiums to find his or her name in lights on the jumbo tron.  A football or basketball recruit can probably expect such treatment.  Athletes do receive benefits that regular students will never receive.  It’s not wrong, it’s reality.  NCAA rules should reflect that reality.
  • ESPN, which hosted the tour that has landed UConn in hot water, appears to have also broken this story.  In addition, ESPN now states that it has discontinued its practice of granting tours to high school athletes.  Query whether ESPN hosted tours for a variety of high school students upon request or only for prospective Division I athletes prior to this incident?

The major problem is the appearance that UConn brought its recruits to ESPN to convey the impression that playing at UConn provides more television exposure than at other schools.  However, I tend to believe the explanation is much more innocent – how many other attractions are of interest to an 18-year old athlete in the Storrs/Greater Hartford Area?  Stay tuned for more developments on this story.

Comments

  1. How many high school athletes looking to study in NYC take the NBC /CBS/ABC tour organized by college orientation committees? I think this is taking things a bit too far with the NCAA looking into this…the ESPN tour is free, isn’t it?

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