Jadeveon Clowney apparently didn't violate any NCAA rules by reportedly associating with rapper/sports agent Jay Z, but the whole ordeal is a warning to South Carolina's star defensive end.
Inside the League, a football insider website, reported (subscription required) that Clowney had been in "regular contact" with Jay Z, who has signed athletes such as Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant and New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano.
But South Carolina assistant director of athletics for media relations Steve Fink released a statement on Thursday that cleared Clowney's name.
The statement read, via Laken Litman of USA Today: “Based on the facts that USC has gathered, Jadeveon Clowney has not had any impermissible conversations nor has he received any impermissible benefits.”
An athlete is allowed to speak to an agent and have dinner with him as long as he provides his own transportation and he pays for his own food. Any agreement for representation violates NCAA rules.
Clowney was lucky he didn't unknowingly violate any NCAA rules in this case. We've seen more than a few occasions where athletes get suspended because transportation and/or meals were compensated. An agent inviting an athlete over for dinner may seem a bit trivial—especially if they are friends—but these are the rules; breaking them is asking for disaster.
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Clowney, arguably college football's best defensive player, racked up 54 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, five quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles as a sophomore in 2012. His hit on Michigan's Vincent Smith in South Carolina's come-from-behind victory in the Outback Bowl may never be forgotten.
One of the nation's top players could have been taken away from us for at least part of the 2013-14 campaign. What's more, Clowney could have hurt his draft stock.
Incidents like these are reminders to athletes that they need to be very careful. One step in the wrong direction could lead to severe consequences.