Arian Foster

Jimbo: Jameis crab hook-up an isolated incident, no NCAA issues

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Wednesday morning brought the acknowledgement from Jameis Winston that his infamous shoplifting of crab legs last year was actually a “hook-up” from a friend who worked at the Tallahassee grocery store.  Winston also revealed that the same friend had hooked him up with a birthday cake for another friend a week before as well.

Those twin revelations set tongues a wagging, especially amongst the anti-Florida State crowd, that Winston had pushed FSU into a realm that could result in punitive penalties being brought down by the NCAA on the football program.

Coincidentally, Winston’s former head coach, Jimbo Fisher, was previously scheduled to speak to media types in an ACC conference call.  Of course, Fisher was asked about his former player’s admissions.

“If he says it is I guess it is,” Fisher said when asked about the admission.

According to the coach, the FSU compliance department looked into the issue at the time — they contacted the Publix store — and found it to be an isolated incident, although Winston’s public comments has the department taking a peek yet again. “[T]hey think it’s totally an isolated incident that happened and [we’re in] the process working it right now. So I don’t think it’s anything else more than that,” Fisher said.

If Winston had decided to return for another season with the Seminoles and made that admission — and no other incidents were uncovered during an investigation — he likely would’ve had his eligibility stripped until he made restitution for the hook-up — $33 for the seafood and an unknown amount for the cake. He would’ve faced no game suspension, unless the value of the cake was $67 or more as NCAA bylaws call for a suspension of 10 percent of that sport’s regular season games — in this case, 1.2 would’ve been rounded down to one game — for impermissible benefits that range from $100-$400 in value; anything below $100 is restitution only.

As for the FSU football program? Unless it was a systematic issue that involved multiple players over numerous years and the university failed to report it, a slap on the wrist for a very secondary violation, at most, would be in the offing. After all, if Arian Foster can admit numerous times that he took upwards of $50,000 from boosters during his time at Tennessee and nothing comes of it, I don’t know why Winston’s admission of free seafood and cake that likely totaled less than $100 would be of interest to the NCAA.

Then again, this is the NCAA we’re discussing, so…

 

Arian Foster says he accepted ’40, 50 grand’ from Vols boosters

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It’s not exactly a shock that Arian Foster stated during an interview Friday that he had accepted money from boosters during his time playing running back at Tennessee; in a documentary that aired in 2013, Foster acknowledged as much.

This time around, though, Foster got into specific dollar amounts, which always piques the interest of some.

During the radio interview with Dan LeBatard Thursday, the current Houston Texans running back was asked about receiving what would be impermissible cash benefits from UT boosters while he was a player.  From the Knoxville News:

“You have people help you out here and there,” Foster said Thursday on the Dan LeBatard show. “Boosters and alumni and ex-players, they all know how it is, man. It’s hard living check to check when you don’t have enough money to go out to the movies or any kind of leisure activity. And you’re not allowed to get a job. Especially when I was in college, they were a lot more stringent on those rules, so at any given chance I got the opportunity, I took a free handout. Absolutely.”

LeBatard pushed Foster for an exact dollar figure. Foster guessed that it was “40, 50 grand throughout my entire career.”

Foster was in Knoxville from 2004-08. His coach during that time was Phillip Fulmer, who released a statement after Foster’s comments in the 2013 documentary became public.

“As the head coach at Tennessee for 17 years, I took great pride in having a program that was NCAA compliant, as did our staff and administration,” Fulmer said at the time. “If we knew of a violation, big or small, we reported it.”

Foster’s comments come amidst a push, especially amongst the Power Five conferences, to put some of the billions of dollars the sports makes back into the pockets of the players in the form of bridging the cost-of-attendance gap. They also come one day after Seattle Seahawk defensive end Michael Bennett called the NCAA “one of the biggest scams in America.”

UPDATED 3:04 p.m. ET: That certainly didn’t take long.

Shortly after we posted the above, UT fans took to Twitter to blast Foster for his admissions during the radio interview yesterday.  At first Foster took this tack…

… and then, as the rhetoric from the other side began to ratchet up, he changed course…

… and ultimately landed here:

Grab your popcorn and head on over to Foster’s Twitter feed HERE.  This could be fun for an hour or two.

Former college stars lend support for O’Bannon lawsuit plaintiffs

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A number of former college football standouts have signed their support for the plaintiffs in the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA. Among the names signing a statement of support are SMU legend Eric Dickerson, Houston Texans running back Arian Foster and ESPN college football analyst and former Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard. The lawsuit, which targets the NCAA’s use of player likenesses, is scheduled to go to trial later this summer, although a judge has encouraged both sides to negotiate some sort of agreement.

The statement of support was obtained by Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com. The statement came through the law office of Michael Hausfield, the lead attorney representing O’Bannon, a former UCLA basketball player, and the growing list of defendants added over the course of the potentially groundbreaking lawsuit’s lifespan. It reads as follows;

“We, athletes who competed in NCAA sponsored collegiate sporting events, express our full support of and agreement with the lawsuit brought by Ed O’Bannon on behalf of current and former collegiate athletes against the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Further, we wish to call attention to the compelling need for dramatic change in the relationship between college athletes and the NCAA and respect for athlete rights.”

In addition to Dickerson, Foster and Howard, some of the other more notable names from the football world to sign the statement are Lendale White, Thurman Thomas, and Gino Marchetti. You can see the full list of football and basketball players to have signed the document in Fowler’s report.

Helmet sticker to CBSSports.com.

Phillip Fulmer attends first Vols practice since firing

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It’s been nearly five years since it was announced that Phillip Fulmer was being dismissed as Tennessee’ head coach at the end of the 2008 season.  Tuesday, Fulmer was back around the football team with which he had spent his collegiate playing career and logged an additional 31 years as a coach.

At the request of current head coach Butch Jones, Fulmer attended a Vols practice for the first time since his firing in early November of 2008 (he finished out that season before stepping aside).  In addition to attending practice, and again at the request of Jones, Fulmer spoke to the team during his return.

While Fulmer did not speak to the media afterwards, UT did send out a quote from the coach in a release.

“It was a little emotional, being the first time back,’’ Fulmer said. “I’m glad to be here. As I told them, any way I can help.”

Oddly enough, Fulmer’s return comes a couple of days after one of his former players, Arian Foster, claimed that he had taken impermissible benefits in the form of cash during his time as a Vols running back.  Fulmer claimed he was unaware of any illicit activity on the part of his players and that the football program was NCAA compliant during his time as coach.

While his name has been attached to numerous openings, high-profile and otherwise, Fulmer has not coached a game since his dismissal.  He is currently a consultant and special assistant to the athletic director at East Tennessee State, which is restarting a football program that was disbanded in 2003.

Fulmer’s 152 wins in 17 seasons as UT’s head coach is second in school history behind the legendary Robert Neyland.  The Vols went 39-24 and claimed at least a share of three SEC East title his last five seasons in Knoxville; in less than five full seasons since his firing, the Vols, under Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley and now Jones, have gone 25-29 and finished T-2nd, T-3rd, 6th and 6th in their own division from 2009-12.

Phillip Fulmer: We were NCAA compliant

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Former Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer said on Sunday that he wasn’t aware of any payments made to former Volunteer running back Arian Foster and that his program was clean during his time in Knoxville.  Foster’s comments about taking money at Tennessee were revealed last week via an interview he did for a documentary.

Fulmer released a statement saying: “As the head coach at Tennessee for 17 years, I took great pride in having a program that was NCAA compliant, as did our staff and administration. If we knew of a violation, big or small, we reported it.”

Foster played at Tennessee for Fulmer from 2005-2008.

According to the NCAA, there is a four-year statute of limitations on such allegations, but the organization can decide that extenuating circumstances warrant another investigation.

Don’t expect anything to come of this, but do expect more players to tell similar tales in the future as respect for the NCAA continues to wane.