Most of the focus in the last couple of weeks regarding which players would be suspended for alleged illicit relationships with agents had centered on North Carolina and South Carolina.
As it turns out, the first player to officially receive sanctions as a result of that investigation is one who was mentioned early on in the probe but not much since. And he’s a member of the defending national champions.
According to multiple reports, Alabama starting defensive tackle Marcell Dareus has been suspended for the first two games of the 2010 season. The NCAA’s findings showed that Dareus must repay nearly $1,800 due to two trips to Miami this offseason that were deemed to have constituted preferential treatment/agent benefits.
Mitigating circumstances turned what was an original four-game suspension into two games; in this case, “mitigating circumstances” could include Dareus not intentionally violating NCAA bylaws and — here’s the key — he was truthful when questioned by NCAA investigators.
Here’s a portion of the NCAA’s release announcing the punishment:
“The university declared the student-athlete ineligible for violations of NCAA preferential treatment and agent benefits rules. According to the facts of the case submitted by Alabama, these benefits included airfare, lodging, meals and transportation during two trips to Miami, Florida.”
Head coach Nick Saban — if you listen close enough, you can actually hear the slow burn going on in the coach’s head regardless of where you are in the continental United States — released his own statement, and used it as a platform to remind people that the pimp scourge needs to be reigned in.
“We respect the decision but we are at the same time disappointed in the suspension. We’ll continue to support Marcell as we move forward. Hopefully Marcell and all involved have learned a valuable lesson from this and like I’ve said before, we will continue to work on establishing stronger legislation in terms of agent and financial advisor guidelines.”
The two-game suspension will force Dareus out of the opener against San Jose State and the Penn State game in Tuscaloosa. It also means Alabama will be without two returning starters from their 2009 national title team; reigning Heisman winner Mark Ingram will miss at least the opener after undergoing knee surgery earlier in the week.