More NCAA violations in Knoxville?

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I’ve always loved Swiperboy, the rapping alter-ego of Tennessee forward Renaldo Woolridge.

Now, however, it appears as if Swiperboy has gotten Tennessee’s basketball program into trouble yet again.

Tennessee men’s basketball player Renaldo Woolridge shot a “three phase” music video early Sunday that may indirectly hit the UT athletic program with another NCAA violation. 

Eight hours after the Vols’ 72-61 loss at No. 8 Connecticut on Saturday, Woolridge received exclusive access to the upstairs portion of New Amsterdam Bar and Grill, 1836 Cumberland Ave., free of charge, a bar source aware of the arrangement told the News Sentinel.

This is, of course, an NCAA violation. (What isn’t these days?) As explained in the article from the Knoxville News-Sentinel:

According to NCAA bylaw 12.1.2.1.6, student-athletes are not permitted to receive preferential treatment, benefits or services “because of the individual’s athletics reputation or skill or pay-back potential as a professional athlete, unless such treatment, benefits or services are specifically permitted under NCAA legislation.” 

On the surface, this appears to be generally harmless, right? This is just a college kid having some fun making music videos, trying to advance a potentially lucrative hip-hop career.

Dig a little deeper, and things get a bit murkier.

The video was shot on Saturday night, and if, as the article states, the New Amsterdam is a popular hangout for UT students, then Saturday night’s must be one of the establishment’s most lucrative nights. Allowing Woolridge to reserve space on a Saturday costs the bar potential revenue because it reduces the number of patrons that can enter and limits the space they have to spend money. I work at a bar in Washington DC, and if you want to reserve our private room on a Friday or Saturday night, you have to sign a contract that states you will spend at least $2,000.

Why?

Because that is roughly what the bar averages on those nights if there isn’t a private event. The details are not yet known in regards to what it costs to rent the room at the New Amsterdam for a private event, but in my experience it generally isn’t cheap.

Take a quick look at Swiperboy’s youtube channel, and you’ll see that most of his 83 uploaded videos generate around 5,000 views, with some as high as 125,000.

Allowing Woolridge to use the room to film his video was essentially an investment in advertising. Every time a Tennessee student watches the video, the New Amsterdam essentially gets their bar promoted. Why else would they cost themselves the potential profit of that space on a Saturday night if they didn’t believe it was going to help drive business?

That’s why it is an NCAA violation. There may not be a contract and there may be no money exchanging hands, but Tennessee will have a tough time convincing the NCAA that the New Amsterdam wasn’t using Woolridge as a marketing tool.

For the Vols, this is the last thing they need. With Bruce Pearl’s suspension from SEC play, his looming punishment from the NCAA, and the struggles they have had the past month and a half, they don’t need another distraction. It makes you wonder what is going on with the program. With the NCAA’s sights firmly set on Tennessee athletics — the football and baseball team are both currently under investigation as well — its a bit mind-blowing that anything even resembling a potential violation would be allowed to happen.

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