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Is Arizona State Taking a Nap?


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Photo Credit - Dinur via Flickr

In today's world of college football, we hear accusations every day about "this team has boosters funding NIL" or something of the equivalent. Oftentimes, the replies are that, until people start naming names, nothing will be done. We now have just such a case out in Tempe, Arizona.


THE INVITATION

On Thursday, August 10, 2023, the head coach of the Arizona State Sun Devils went public and named a specific booster to the former PAC-12 school as having donated $1 million to the NIL fund at Arizona State. The 33-year-old Kenny Dillingham did not stop there, either. The first-year head coach invited said booster, Nap Lawrence, to "Come out on the field, do whatever you want."

THE ISSUE AT HAND

Some of you may be asking "What is wrong with that?" To be frank, that is a very clear and direct violation of NCAA rules on the role of boosters. Per the NCAA manual, boosters are forbidden from contacting a prospect either on campus or off campus. They are also forbidden from becoming directly or indirectly involved in making arrangements for a prospect or a prospect's relative or guardian to receive money or financial aid of any kind. Attending practice and interacting with the players would violate the no-contact wording, and making a donation to any NIL fund would violate the indirect financial arrangements.

PROSPECT OR PLAYER

The rules listed above clearly contain the word "prospect," and there seems to be some misunderstanding of what a prospect actually is. Most people would define that as a recruit, however, the NCAA manual is very clear on this issue as well. Make no mistake, students are still considered to be "prospects" even after they have signed any NLI (National Letter of Intent) documentation or any financial aid agreement with the university. Thus, even as current students and team members, they would still be defined as prospects. Therefore, boosters would not be allowed to have any relationship with current roster members.

Did Arizona State VIOLATE THE RULES?

What I do not want to do here is levy any accusation against Arizona State or head coach Kenny Dillingham. We do not have any evidence that Nap Lawrence actually attended any practice or that he has even communicated with any prospect on the team. We can only state that there was an invitation to do so. We also do not know if any player benefitted from any NIL monies that Lawrence may have contributed or that he even did so at all. This very well could be a very innocent situation that just sounds bad. We certainly do hope that college football has not literally become the wild, wild west.

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