The definition of an indefinite suspension varies from player to player and case to case, and in the case of Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, it's apparently not a good one.
According to the Tuscaloosa News, Clinton-Dix's suspension stems from a one-time loan of less than $500 from assistant strength and conditioning coach Corey Harris over the summer after the star defender's 2012 Dodge Charger was broken into.
Harris has been placed on administrative leave, according to the report.
A loan of any amount would be a violation of NCAA Bylaw 184.108.40.206, which states:
A student-athlete may not receive a special discount, payment arrangement or credit on a purchase (e.g., airline ticket, clothing) or a service (e.g., laundry, dry cleaning) from an institutional employee or a representative of its athletics interests.
For Clinton-Dix, despite how bad it looks, it's not terrible news.
The report states that he provided bank records to Alabama's compliance department showing that he paid the loan back. Considering the relatively small amount and willingness to cooperate, as long as the compliance department or the NCAA doesn't find anything else, he'll be back.
From a 40,000-foot view, however, this is very concerning for Alabama.
Just last month Yahoo! Sports reported that former Tide offensive tackle D.J. Fluker received impermissible benefits, including money and a bed set, from agents and financial advisers, all funneled through former Alabama defensive lineman Luther Davis. One of those agents is John Phillips, an Alabama alum according to Yahoo! Sports.
It's not just a former player who's under suspicion as being a middle man in the Clinton-Dix case, it's a current staffer. In this particular case, it's a staffer whom the Tuscaloosa News reports also has a connection to a representative of a sports agent.
In less than a month, two scandals involving impermissible benefits have hit the Alabama football program. Not only do they involve Crimson Tide players, each involves people with connections to the program providing the benefit(s).
That's a whole lot of crimson.
If Clinton-Dix did provide bank records to prove he paid Harris back, that's still a paper trail. The same kind of paper trail that Yahoo! Sports published last month in its report on Davis' payments to Fluker, former Mississippi State players Fletcher Cox and Chad Bumphis, former Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray, and current Vol defensive lineman Maurice Couch.
The NCAA and/or the Alabama compliance department would still have to acquire that information to do anything with it, but it certainly looks like Alabama is taking agent-related accusations and impermissible benefits seriously.
That's a good thing. The fact that something new surfaced, however, isn't.
It isn't like this is some obscure rule. Coaches, players and support staff know that coaches can't provide money to players aside from NCAA-regulated per diems and expenses. If Nick Saban has a staff member knowingly ignoring the rule—even just once—that's basically opening the doors for the NCAA to give the program a thorough once-over.
No program wants that, especially one that has three of the last four crystal footballs sitting in its trophy case.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will be fine; he'll probably suit up in a few weeks and continue his career at Alabama and beyond with little mention of this incident again.
But it appears that Alabama's compliance department is digging into agent-related issues, and getting a little dirty in the process.
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