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NCAA: Stanford boosters gave ex-WR Devon Cajuste $3,500 in impermissible benefits

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Known across the country for its football program’s squeaky-clean image, Stanford has seen that reputation take a slight hit.

The NCAA announced Thursday afternoon that “two boosters impermissibly provided nearly $3,500 in extra benefits to a football student-athlete, including an impermissible loan, free use of an automobile, meals and other extra benefits.”  While the NCAA didn’t specify the player’s name, the university subsequently confirmed that it was former wide receiver Devon Cajuste.

The Cardinal self-imposed a one-game suspension on Cajuste.  Additionally, the receiver was forced to pay the value of the impermissible benefits to charity as a condition of his 2014 reinstatement.

Below is the school’s explanation as to how they ran afoul of NCAA bylaws:

Student-athletes had been residing with community homeowners during the summer for a number of decades, and in 2007 Stanford football initiated structured process to help student-athletes connect with community homeowners to obtain rental housing in the summer months. The program helped football student-athletes remain in the area to train, attend summer classes and participate in internships and other activities that would benefit them after graduation.

In the summer of 2014, the university discovered that one student-athlete had received impermissible benefits from his landlord in violation of NCAA rules. Impermissible benefits valued at under $400 included restaurant meals with the landlord’s family, movie tickets with the family and the use of a local vacation home. Another impermissible benefit was a loan to purchase a bicycle, which, at the time of the review, had already been repaid.

The NCAA investigation explored whether there was a possibility of other violations. No other violations were addressed in the report. But in 2014, recognizing the risks of these housing arrangements, the university revised its policy and now prohibits student-athletes from renting local housing during the summer. Student-athletes are now housed on campus. The university has provided additional education to community members and boosters regarding impermissible benefits.

“Earlier today, the NCAA released a report announcing that Stanford self-reported a violation involving a Stanford football student-athlete in 2014. I am the student-athlete involved in the violation,” Cajuste said in a statement. “I unknowingly accepted impermissible benefits from my summer landlord. I look forward to moving on from this incident and to supporting my alma mater for many years to come. I will have no further comment on this matter.”

The NCAA accepted Stanford’s self-imposed penalties for what were deemed Level II violations, while adding an additional $5,000 fine and a public reprimand of the university.  Those are the first “major” violations for the football program.

“The university will continue to be diligent about educating student-athletes and supporters, monitoring its programs and, when a potential violation is discovered, vigorously reviewing the matter and self-reporting to the NCAA any findings,” the university stated in its release. “Stanford will continue to work towards a tradition of excellence and hold itself to the highest standards of conduct and compliance.”

Florida’s Cece Jefferson reportedly out four months after surgery

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One of the most heralded members of Florida’s 2015 recruiting class has hit a medical speedbump.

According to Robbie Andreu of the Gainesville Sun, Cece Jefferson underwent surgery on his right shoulder earlier this week after injuring it during the Gators’ spring game.  As a result of that surgical procedure and the ensuing rehab, the defensive lineman is expected to be sidelined for the next four months.

Such a timeline would see Jefferson returning to on-field football action in mid-August, which would be right in the middle of summer camp.  Whether the lineman would be ready for the start of the 2018 regular season remains to be seen.

Jefferson was a consensus five-star prospect, rated as the No. 2 strongside defensive end in the Class of 2015; the No. 4 player at any position in the state of Florida; and the No. 7 player overall on 247Sports.com’s composite board.

This past season, Jefferson led the Gators with 13.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.  After considering early entry into the 2018 NFL draft, the 6-1, 242-pound lineman opted to return to Gainesville for one more season.

Ohio State OL Matthew Burrell transferring from Buckeyes

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For the third time this offseason, Ohio State has lost an offensive lineman to transfer.

The latest to leave the trenches in Columbus is Matthew Burrell (pictured, right), with the rising redshirt junior taking to Instagram to announce that, “after prayer and thought, I will be transferring from OSU.” While no specific reason for the decision to transfer was given, the lineman’s placement on the depth chart likely played a significant role.

A four-star member of the Buckeyes’ 2015 recruiting class, Burrell was rated as the No. 7 guard in the country and the No. 4 player at any position in the state of Virginia.  The past two seasons, the lineman had seen action in a total of 25 games, including 12 this past season.

In addition to Burrell, OSU offensive linemen Jack Wohlabaugh (HERE) and Kevin Feder (HERE) have all left the program since the end of the 2017 regular season.

UCF police go all in on national championship campaign

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Look, I get it. I know exactly how this game is played. They do it so that people like me will write about it and people like you will read it. It’s all a ploy to make everyone on campus puff their chests out just a little bit further and to keep their name on our lips just a little bit longer.

But doggone if it isn’t working.

More than three months after claiming its 2017 national championship, UCF has found a way to keep itself relevant, this time by having the campus police department get in on the act.

AD Danny White already committed to pay national championship bonuses for coaches who are no longer in the school’s employ, but that’s not even the end of this. There’s still a ring ceremony that is (or at least should) be forthcoming, and the banner reveal at Spectrum Stadium that’s surely coming at the 2018 season opener.

If you’re going to go all in on a publicity campaign, it’s best to go all the way in. As UCF has done here.

NCAA tables proposal that would allow players to play in up to four games and retain redshirt

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The NCAA’s Division I Council on Wednesday tabled a proposal that would allow players to compete in up to four games and retain their redshirts. Championed by AFCA executive director Todd Berry, the rule was touted as a necessary change in an era where teams play 14- and 15-game seasons.

The rule would allow redshirting players to replace injured players without personal cost to their careers. Presently, a coach with dwindling numbers at a given position is put in between the rock and the hard place of burning an innocent player’s redshirt or putting players at risk of injury through overuse.

Here’s how the NCAA presented the news:

The Council tabled a proposal that would allow football student-athletes to participate in up to four games per year without using a season of competition. Proponents argue that late-season injuries and other factors often require student-athletes who hadn’t played all season to burn a year of eligibility for a small number of games. Others wonder whether the proposal could be applied to other sports, as well, whether the number of games in the proposal is appropriate, and whether the timing of the four games matters.

It is not clear what opposition exists to the rule, though Big 12 commissioner, Council member and noted fear-mongerer Bob Bowlsby posited in January that teams could, for some unexplained reason, hold their best players back until the final four games of the season.

“I think it’s got a lot of merit,” he said, “but there are some hooks in it. I don’t know how comfortable people are with, suddenly in the last three games and a bowl game, you go from being a guy who’s on the scout team to [a prominent role].”

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The proposal is not all dead, as Miracle Max would say. The Council will now turn the tabled proposal over to the Football Oversight and Student-Athlete Experience Committees for discussion and feedback solicitation.