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Leonard Fournette's Family Reportedly Investigated for Potential NCAA Violation

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistNovember 10, 2015

LSU running back Leonard Fournette  warms up in the rain before an NCAA college football game against Western Kentucky in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

LSU has reportedly launched an investigation into whether a short-lived website built around Leonard Fournette's catchphrase, BUGA Nation, constituted an NCAA violation.  

According to Josh Peter of USA Today, LSU has hired attorney Bob Barton to investigate the website, which was funded by the Fournettes and Paul Price, the family's manager. Peter's report indicates the site sold memorabilia with the "BUGA Nation" phrase but did not explicitly feature Fournette. The website ceased selling the memorabilia within 24 hours of its launch, which coincided with the opening week of the 2014 season.

Fournette could be subject to a suspension if his family is found to have committed an NCAA violation. The association's bylaws prohibit players, family members and associates from profiting off of a student-athlete's likeness. Even if Fournette was not directly named anywhere on the website, the "BUGA Nation" phrase is a matter of semantics; it's the equivalent of Deion Sanders selling items with "Prime Time" but not mentioning his name.

Fournette, a sophomore, is one of college football's best and most marketable players. He's rushed for 1,383 yards and 16 touchdowns thus far in 2015 and was considered a Heisman favorite before a shaky performance in Saturday's loss to Alabama. Because he's just two years removed from his high school graduation, Fournette would have no recourse if he's stripped of his eligibility. He would not be able to enter the NFL draft until 2017. 

Neither LSU nor the NCAA has commented on the investigation. 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

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