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

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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.

Suspended LSU player facing felony burglary charge

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And now we know a little more of the rest of the story.

Wednesday, LSU announced that Adrian Magee had been indefinitely suspended from the football program.  The stated reason?  Unspecified violations of team rules.

Not surprisingly, word subsequently surfaced that the offensive lineman had become entangled in an off-field situation.  Specifically, Magee, after a warrant had been issued for his arrest, has been charged with simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling in connection to an alleged on-campus apartment heist.  The charge, it should be noted, is a felony.

According to reports, Magee actually returned some of the items he allegedly lifted after finding out there may be video evidence of the incident.  From WBRZ-TV:

According to Baton Rouge Police, the victim returned to his apartment just before midnight on April 1. The victim says he returned to find the door to his apartment was forced open and he was missing electronic items and cash.

The victim says he was looking through the apartment when Magee stuck his head through the open door and asked the victim if he had been burglarized. The victim says he’s an LSU fan and immediately recognized Magee due to him wearing clothes with his football jersey number on it.

After the victim told Magee that he was going to check his security cameras to see who burglarized his apartment, Magee walked out and soon returned with several of the victim’s belongings, according to the arrest warrant.

According to the victim, an Xbox gaming console, six Xbox games, Gucci flip flops, an Onyx bluetooth speaker, and $1,200 cash were stolen from the apartment. The victim’s girlfriend’s purse was also dumped out and rifled through.

A three-star member of the Tigers’ 2015 recruiting class, Magee was rated as the No. 45 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 20 player at any position in the state of Louisiana.  An injury forced the 6-5, 309-pound lineman to take a redshirt as a true freshman.

Last year as a reserve, Magee saw action in three games.

This spring, Magee started at right tackle because of an injury to returning starter Toby Weathersby.  Weathersby is expected to be fully recovered for the start of summer camp in early August, with Magee sliding back to his role as a backup.

Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson frowns upon Group of Five playoff idea

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The chances a team from the Group of Five ever gets selected to play in the College Football Playoff range from slim to none. As such, talk from within the Group of Five has kicked up from time to time, especially over the last year, about a possible Group of Five-only version of the College Football Playoff. The reactions to that idea has been mixed, but add Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson to the group of people who thinks that idea should be tossed aside.

While attending meetings for the College Football Playoff, Benson told reporters he would prefer to see conference champions from the Group of Five (American, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt) receive better bowl bids instead of playing in a minor version of the College Football Playoff.

It’s time to have a realistic conversation about creating a playoff for the Group of 5,” NIU athletic director Sean Frazier told Brett McMurphy, then of ESPN.com, back in December. “Why not?”

Well, there are a number of reasons. First, not everybody seems to be on board with playing the college football version equivalent of the NIT. Sure, it would be on TV and would get ratings, but the reward at the end of the JV playoff would mean little. Nobody would consider it a national championship. That’s what the FCS is for.

Benson is not alone in his anti-Group of Five playoff stance. MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher also has been on record saying he is not interested in such a plan, and he oversaw a member from his conference go undefeated last season and play in the Cotton Bowl (Western Michigan).

My initial reaction is that’s not something I’m interested in,” Steinbrecher said, according to MLive.com in December. “We’re part of the (College Football Playoff) system, and it’s done a lot of very good things for the Mid-American Conference.”

Without the support from two of the Group of Five commissioners (and you can almost be guaranteed you can add Mike Aresco of the American Athletic Conference to the list given the conference’s push to be considered a power conference), this idea is pretty much dead on arrival.

LSU’s Arden Key: I am not sitting out my junior year

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After taking a little time off from the LSU football program this spring, Arden Key calmed the nerves of Tigers fans on Wednesday with a simple message on his Twitter account.

Key announced to his Twitter followers he will be on the field for the Tigers this fall. Back in February, LSU released a statement saying Key would be stepping away from the program “for personal reasons.” What those personal reasons were is unknown, but he did so with the support of head coach Ed Orgeron and the entire football program at the time.

Key earned second-team All-SEC honors last season after leading LSU with 14.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks, a school record. With news, he would be stepping away from the program and the age of top NFL Draft prospects opting out of bowl games, the mere thought that Key might become the first potential NFL Draft pick the following season sitting out the entire football season was difficult to completely ignore. Fortunately, especially for LSU and not so much for LSU’s opponents, Key is choosing not to break that barrier at this time.

Texas A&M removes WR Kirk Merritt from roster

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After being charged for allegedly exposing himself to tutors at Texas A&M, wide receiver Kirk Merritt is no longer an Aggie. Merritt has been removed from the Texas A&M football program, according to a report from The Eagle. Though there has been no official statement confirming such news, Merritt’s name has been wiped off the team’s online roster.

Merritt pleaded not guilty to a pair of indecent exposure charges against him stemming from an incident last October. Merritt allegedly exposed himself to female academic tutors. Merritt was suspended by Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin a few days after the alleged incidents. The suspension was expanded to indefinite status following Merritt’s arrest on November 8. The suspension has since been lifted after the university’s conduct process wrapped up in January.

It has been a bit of a bumpy year for Merritt. Merritt left Oregon for Texas A&M last summer due to family reasons. He participated in Texas A&M’s spring practices but did not play in the spring game.