It doesn’t happen that often, so when it does, it deserves note.
The NCAA got something right. They decided that the Ashton Kutcher-related violations that Iowa self-reported were secondary in nature and that the recruits would not receive any punishment.
Its seems silly, I know. A recruiting violation was committed when a couple of players decided they wanted to take a picture with Kelso from That 70’s Show at a football game during their recruiting visit. It just so happens that Kutcher is in an Iowa fan. Since Kutcher and his wife Demi Moore were there for a fundraiser, they were deemed to be representatives of Iowa’s athletic interests. The same goes for former Hawkeye players Reggie Evans and Dean Oliver, who the recruits also met. Meeting a representative of a school’s athletic interests is a violation.
Look, I understand why this rule is in place. It is designed to keep the players from meeting the boosters with deep pockets while they are visiting the school. That’s a good thing.
But Reggie Evans is not a booster. And while the twitpic the player’s took with Kutcher is going to be in all the headlines, having the recruits meet Evans and Oliver was just as much of a violation.
Reggie Evans is a legitimate recruiting tool for the Hawkeyes. Evans wasn’t a great player in high school or college, but he worked hard enough that he was able to make it to the NBA. He’s proof to recruits that picking a school like Iowa isn’t the end of their NBA dreams.
Another example of something similar comes from George Dohrmann’s Play Their Hearts Out. He talks about a potential violation involving Clark Kellogg during Ohio State’s recruitment of Roberto Nelson. Kellogg tried to sell Nelson and his father on the Buckeyes. That, technically, is a violation, and I couldn’t disagree more.
Kellogg is precisely who you want around if you are Thad Matta. He’s a recognizable face, a college graduate that played professionally before becoming the lead color analyst for CBS college basketball coverage. And while Kellogg shouldn’t be allowed to make in-home visits with these kids, allowing a recruit to meet Kellogg if he happens to be on campus shouldn’t be a violation.
School’s should be allowed to use their alumni and their alumni’s successes as recruiting tools.
Meeting a celebrity fan or a former player in the program that is now in the pros is much different than being offered a car by the school’s booster club.
And I’m glad that, at least in this case, the NCAA recognized the difference.