Maurice Couch's punishment is just the first delivered amidst all of the controversy surrounding the SEC, and it certainly doesn't bode well for the rest of the programs in the conference.
It was reported on Friday that Couch would be ineligible for Saturday's game against No. 2 Oregon, according to multiple reports, including one by Yahoo Sports.
A report by USA Today provided additional details about the suspension, including a statement by Tennessee Volunteers head coach Butch Jones:
"As of right now, the situation with Mo Couch is we've declared him ineligible for this game," Jones said Thursday during his weekly interview with Nashville radio station 104.5. "Right now our compliance group is currently in the process of working through all the details and logistics of the situation. That's all we kind of know right now, but as of right now moving forward, he will not make the trip to Oregon."
Jones later told the Associated Press via text message that it was Tennessee's compliance department that ruled the 6-foot-2, 304-pound Couch ineligible.
Couch released his own apology over Twitter for the events.
It may have been a punishment administered by the school itself, but seeing Jones ruled ineligible for a game means that the reports surrounding SEC players receiving impermissible benefits have merit.
This is certainly something that the Alabama Crimson Tide and the school itself are paying close attention to. D.J. Fluker was one of the names mentioned in the reports, and his involvement in the scandal could mean that Alabama would be forced to vacate their two BCS National Championship wins, along with the SEC Championship from 2012.
We have seen this happen before. USC was stripped of their 2004 national title after it was discovered that Reggie Bush received impermissible benefits during his time at the school.
Couch is the only active player mentioned in the reports, and he has already been ruled ineligible for one game. If the investigation finds these reports to be valid, he could be suspended for even longer, and the Tennessee program could face suspensions of their own.
If Couch, the only active player, received a punishment, doesn't that mean that something is bound to happen to the two other programs mentioned in Alabama and Mississippi State?
There's certainly no shortage of evidence. In fact, Yahoo Sports has provided a gallery of the documents that they've uncovered regarding the scandal, and they appear to be quite incriminating.
The NCAA will investigate this report, and there appears to be a lot of credibility to it. For a current player to be ruled ineligible for a game and apologize personally over Twitter, it certainly seems like this is a legitimate scandal with enough evidence to bring some punishment to the three programs mentioned.
At the moment, no decision has been made, but you can be sure that this report will be looked at and investigated thoroughly for over the course of the next few months.
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