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Florida DT’s adoption by former booster raises eyebrows, but where’s the incentive?

Matt Schilz, Sharrif Floyd AP

Impermissible benefits have become a numbing part of the NCAA’s role in college football (and college athletics in general), but what happens when a player who’s received impermissible benefits is adopted by someone who’s already been disassociated from a program for giving them out?

You get Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and his adoptive family,  Kevin and Tiffany Lahn.

Floyd, a junior defensive tackle for the Gators, was suspended two games and forced to repay nearly $3,000 in benefits he received last year “for living expenses, transportation and other expenses” by “an individual not associated with the university.” Turns out, that individual was Lahn, according to a story from the USA Today.

“After his suspension, Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd was adopted, at age 20, by the man who provided those benefits,” the paper writes.

Lahn, a vice president of a commercial real estate company, was actually disassociated from South Carolina in April of this year for his role in providing benefits to Gamecocks student-athletes. South Carolina was hit with three years probation, as well as scholarship and recruiting restrictions as part of the NCAA’s punishment.

Given that bit of information, the USA Today pondered if Lahn’s adoption of Floyd “could be a loophole used in the future to provide benefits for elite athletes.” You can read the entire story HERE – it really is a solid write-up by Rachel George – but we thought about the possibility of an impermissible benefits loophole too. Basically, the NCAA answered the question for us:

John Infante, a former assistant compliance director at Colorado State and Loyola Marymount and author of the Bylaw Blog, says the NCAA likely wouldn’t want to get involved in assessing the legitimacy of adoptions and trying to determine whether they have been done to formalize an existing relationship or to find a way around the rules to provide benefits.

“It’s between a rock and a hard place, because, on one hand, you let this go, if you’re saying this is the one thing we’re not going to touch — parents and legal guardians — well then you’ve established a way around the rules where AAU coaches, runners, agents, boosters just adopt kids and start providing for them,” he says. “You can basically do whatever you want.”

NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn says examinations are made on a case-by-case basis. “If a student-athlete is adopted, from that point forward the individual would be treated as any other parent,” Osburn said in an e-mail.

We’ve criticized the NCAA often here at CFT, but if the Association doesn’t look too deep into Floyd’s arrangement you won’t hear a peep from us about it. Yes, it’s possible that the Lahn family is using adoption as a loophole to provide Floyd with what the NCAA would normally consider to be impermissible benefits, but is it likely? When you really think about it, doesn’t that sound like a high risk, low reward situation?

Let’s assume for argument’s sake there is an ulterior motive on the part of the Lahn family:  that they hope by giving Floyd lavish gifts they’ll be rewarded with a hefty return on investment later when Floyd, considered to be a high draft prospect, is signing his pro contract. For one, that’s a lot of finger and toe crossing. Floyd could get hurt, fizzle out or blow his money Vince Young style by buying his entire team “Death by Chocolate” at the Cheesecake Factory five days a week for three years.

Even if the Lahn family networks Floyd with a top agent — that would be an NCAA violation — that’s not going to prevent an athlete from a “broken and poor family” from knowing how to manage his finances, which may or may not involve them. And all in the name of providing permissible benefits?

Secondly, the Lahn family is clearly well-off. They have a 6,500-square-foot home on a golf course, they take trips to Miami and they gave Floyd a Ford Explorer as a gift. Nobody’s eating Top Ramen and hot dogs in the Lahn household — not that there’s anything wrong with that part of a balanced diet. And guess what? Floyd isn’t the only college athlete eating from the silver spoon his family provides. He might be in the minority, but he’s not on an island.

But putting business decisions aside, sometimes you just have to consider the process of adopting a kid of any age.

“There’s no ulterior motive on either part. It was just that they bonded really well,” Steve Gordon, a close friend of both Floyd and Lahn, told the paper. “(Adoption is) a huge load. You can’t do it for an ulterior motive other than that you actually have love and concern for the kid and their well-being.”

Well, you can, it just has to be one hell of a good motive. For the Lahn family, it would appear adding a member to their family is good enough.

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10 Responses to “Florida DT’s adoption by former booster raises eyebrows, but where’s the incentive?”
  1. seanb20124 says: Nov 13, 2012 7:19 PM

    Guy sounds like a serious jock sniffer

  2. mhalt99 says: Nov 13, 2012 8:35 PM

    imagine if Google or Apple had to adopt their engineers….it would be dorm style like Foxconn or the NCAA….

    how about we start just paying these players considering they are part of a billion dollar industry. or we could keep handing out worthless degrees to people too tired from practice to earn them (or learn material more in depth) that may or may not have the “q” to utilize them after they graduate. kinda like buying the island of manhattan for $24.

  3. jmb795 says: Nov 13, 2012 8:39 PM

    I want to adopt Johnny Football.

  4. ningenito78 says: Nov 13, 2012 11:29 PM

    Adopted at 20 years old? How is that even possible? That’s got ‘business deal’ written all over it.

  5. atxcane says: Nov 13, 2012 11:51 PM

    Wow. What a shallow, poorly thought out blog post.

    By this logic, boosters shouldn’t exist. What is the incentive for them to donate millions to a football program? They can’t possibly make money off a successful football program.

  6. overratedgators says: Nov 14, 2012 1:31 AM

    BREAKING: Lane Kiffin just retroactively adopted Reggie Bush.

  7. floridacock says: Nov 14, 2012 10:17 AM

    Your source Gordon was in cahoots with Lahn in the South Carolina debacle. These people are not boosters, they have an agenda. They are involved with getting 2 different schools, so far, in trouble. They need to be banned from all NCAA schools affiliation.

  8. olskool711 says: Nov 14, 2012 11:17 AM

    The moral to this story…

    if Floyd can get freebies from Lahn, then Ben should be able to get a piece of free cheesecake.

  9. pjduffey says: Nov 15, 2012 8:07 AM

    @atxcane:

    But Lahn isn’t a Gator booster. He got in trouble w/ another program (Gamecocks), but it’s not like this is UF’s way of paying Floyd without paying Floyd.

    This isn’t even like the blindside story–he didn’t steer Floyd to Fla.

    He just likes the kid, who comes from a bad situation.

    Cleat chaser? Maybe. But Ben is pointing out that he isn’t gaining anything from Floyd playing at Florida. UF isn’t his program and he’s not some agent looking to sign Floyd. Is this all some elaborate scheme to extract money from Floyd if he makes it to the NFL? If it is, then that would officially make it the dumbest investment ever considering that it was incredibly high risk (started when Floyd was in high school) and lacks diversity (if Floyd got injured or didn’t pan out, he would have been SoL).

    Oh, and to those asking, adult adoptions are very common. I do them all the time in my field (estate planning and asset preservation) under various various relationships.

  10. dannythebisforbeast says: Nov 16, 2012 6:24 AM

    Mrs Lahn loves giving their new son nightly baths

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