NCAA And Improper Benefits

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NCAA And Improper Benefits December 21, 2012 7:29 AM

The season of giving is not always what it is cracked up to be. The NCAA may giveth and the NCAA may giveth suspensions.

Although not related to hockey, the story of Texas basketball guard Myck Kabongo being suspended for season by the NCAA has some very important paralells hockey players must be aware of.

Kabongo, a one-time potential NBA first-round draft pick, received impermissible benefits from agent Rich Paul, who represents NBA superstar LeBron James and two former Texas Longhorns players: Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson and San Antonio Spurs guard Cory Joseph.

At issue was who paid for Kabongo’s travel and expenses, and whether professional training was provided without cost.

In most impermissible benefits situations, players usually are suspended from three to 10 games and ordered to repay the amount of the benefits received. In this case, the penalty was made more severe because Kabongo provided inaccurate information to NCAA investigators when he was interviewed, sources with ties to Texas’ basketball program said. TJHN has learned the suspension is under appeal and a ruling could come as woon as today.

How does this relate to hockey players?

The answer is simple. Players, can not receive anything of value from anyone if they want to maintain their amateur status.

For many years hockey agents have been acting as advisers to players. Many of them tell the player and parent not to worry about paying for the service and they will wait to get paid until the player turns pro.

The problem is that if they are also working with pro players at that time they are getting paid for the work from the pro player. This turns into a problem for the amateur player who is receiving the same services and not paying for it. This is an improper benefit. It is no different than and adviser giving you some free sticks or gloves. It is no different than if an adviser pays for dinner or for plane tickets and a hotel.

When a service provider charges a fee, the fee must be consitant. You cant charge one player nothing while charging another player something. It is no different than a player accepting cash from someone, if the service or item has a value, then it must be paid for at the time of service.

In hockey, until recently, the NCAA has turned a blind eye to these types of arrangements. That time is coming to an end like a train going off the tracks. TJHN has learned that several Agents representing that they provide "adviser services" are now being put under the microscope along with the players they are working with.

One source cited knowledge of the NCAA reportedly ready to take action with better than a dozen players. That action may come in orderin reimbursement or through suspension. The same source also reported that several players did reimburse "advisers" for expenses prior to the conclusion of their investigation and that those reimbursements will be taken into account when decisions are made.

What can the reader take from this? Perhaps it may only be the application of some great cliches’; You get what you pay for. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Bottom line players and parents, if your not paying for something that is hockey service related, you are probably placing your NCAA status at risk.

Like Nic Kerdiles the Wisconsin Hockey Player who served a 10 game suspension earlier this season, this should be a cautionary tale. The NCAA is watching every athlete more closely now.

By Joseph Kolodziej

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