When it was announced at the beginning of the week that New Mexico point guard Jamal Fenton was suspended for three games for a violation of NCAA rules, the school did not provide any details as to why Fenton was disciplined.
Thanks to the Albuquerque Journal we now know what happened.
According to the paper Fenton rented out a ballroom at the Albuquerque Marriott for his 21st birthday, and the hotel gave him a $250 discount on the room that he did not know about.
“Not knowing I already got the discount, (the hotel sales representative) told me the price and it sounded like a good price for me,” Fenton wrote in an April 25 email to the UNM compliance office after the violation was brought to his attention. Fenton paid $500 for a ballroom that ultimately could have gone to any member of the public for $750.
“If I would have known the real price, I still would have got it because money wasn’t the issue. I had no idea I was getting a good price on the ballroom because this was my first time ever throwing a party in a ballroom and the price she gave me already sounded like a lot.”
Per NCAA rules in addition to the repayment of the $250 (which goes to a charity of Fenton’s choice and not the hotel) he has to sit out 10% of New Mexico’s schedule, which worked out to three games.
I can understand the repayment aspect of the penalty, and to be fair this ruling is consistent with other NCAA rulings on cases like this.
But should Fenton really be suspended for a violation he didn’t know (and the investigation turned up no proof that he did know) was being committed? More than a few people would say that he shouldn’t.
The good news for the Lobos is that Fenton will be available for the team’s third game at the Paradise Jam. But there’s the season opener against a very good Davidson squad in Albuquerque that he will miss.
Instead of simply having to pay $750 to begin with, Fenton now gets to sit three games in addition to ultimately paying that much money thanks to a hotel employee. Sweet.