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.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.