The NCAA appeals committee that reviewed the suspensions of Hanner Mosquera-Pera and Peter Jurkin has decided to uphold the suspensions. Jurkin and Mosquera-Perea will miss four more games--Ball State, North Carolina, Coppin State, and Central Connecticut State--and will begin their college careers at Conseco Fieldhouse on December 15 against Butler in the Crossroads Classic.
Here is the NCAA's statement, in full:
Indiana University freshmen student-athletes Peter Jurkin and Hanner Perea must miss nine games, according to an appeal decision announced on Friday by the NCAA Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement. Jurkin and Perea have already sat out five games and must miss four more games before being eligible to compete again.
According to the facts of the case regarding the violations, which were agreed upon by the university, Jurkin and Perea accepted approximately $6,000 and $8,000, respectively, in impermissible benefits from an Indiana University booster. The recruiting inducements were provided on multiple occasions during the student-athletes’ recruitment, and included plane tickets, meals, housing, a laptop, cell phone and clothing.
While a $185 donation to the university may have triggered the booster’s status, recent interactions reinforce his unique access and continuous involvement with the men’s basketball program.
Specifically, he signed financial aid documents required for two former Indiana University basketball student-athletes in 2008 and 2010. Further, Jurkin and Perea lived with the booster in Bloomington, Ind., during multiple summers. Indiana University also provided the booster, who is a nonscholastic coach, with permissible, complimentary men’s basketball tickets. The university has suspended the relationship with the booster until July 1, 2013.
On a number of occasions during the regular review of its rules, NCAA members have continually stressed that the unfair recruiting advantages that come from booster involvement should not be acceptable in college athletics. Further, the 2011 NCAA Presidential Retreat participants emphasized the need for increased accountability and integrity in several aspects of college sports, including the involvement of boosters with prospective student-athletes.
Reinstatement decisions are made based on withholding guidelines developed by the reinstatement committee of NCAA members, as well as any mitigating factors presented by the university. The staff and committee consider a number of factors, including the total amount of benefits received, the nature and type of violations, and whether a booster provided the benefits, among others. The staff provided a significant reduction in the amount of repayment due to the mitigation presented. Perea and Jurkin will be required to pay $250 and approximately $1,590, respectively, to charities of their choice. Indiana did not appeal the repayment requirement.
The reinstatement committee is the final appeal opportunity. The independent committee is composed of representatives from NCAA member colleges, universities and athletic conferences. It can reduce or remove the conditions, but cannot increase the conditions imposed by the staff.
Well, that's that. The originally announced suspension will stand, and these two young men who don't appear to have been up to anything will miss a third of their freshman seasons. The absurdity of this situation, or at least the inability of NCAA rules to address these situations, is highlighted by what I have put in bold. First, the NCAA characterizes what these young men received as "recruiting inducements." That's the first I have seen that language, although I may have overlooked it before. The "inducements were, as the paragraphs below make clear, ordinary living expenses such as meals, travel expenses, house, and the like. In other words, exactly the sort of items that Mark Adams's charity presumably provides to all players, or at least to players other than Jurkin and Mosquera-Perea. Because Adams paid $185 to the IU Varsity Club 15 to 20 years ago, then he is a booster, and the sort of benefits that would be ordinary benefits if provided to other beneficiaries of his charity then are presumed by NCAA rules to be "recruiting inducements."
The difficulty that everyone has with this case, of course, is that there is no indication that Mark Adams's status as an IU booster motivated anything that he did concerning Jurkin and Mosquera-Perea. I find the NCAA's "while a $185 donation may have triggered the booster's status..." construction to be nonsense. There's no "may" about it. Absent that meager, decades-old financial contribution, then nothing he did for Jurkin and Mosquera-Perea would have been improper. I understand the booster rules and generally agree with their existence. There has to be a way to stop involved donors from buying recruits. But that doesn't seem to be the case here. The "recruiting inducements" appear to be technical, not actual.
And after this entire rambling post and multi-week ordeal, that is what bothers me. If the NCAA actually believed that Mark Adams gave Jurkin and Mosquera-Perea a total of $14,000 on the condition that they enroll at Indiana University and play for its basketball team, this would be an epic scandal. This wouldn't be characterized as a minor violation. This wouldn't be stopping with partial-season suspensions a, small fine payable by IU, and a one season disassociation of Mark Adams. If Jurkin and Mosquera-Perea actually accepted the money understanding that they were being paid by Adams to attend IU, they would be in big trouble. Nobody seems to think that, or at least have any evidence of it. It seems as if the NCAA couldn't miss the opportunity to stick it to an AAU coach even though the coach's technical booster status had no connection to the benefits provided.
Even if I grudgingly accept that even in the absence of any actual causation, improper benefits paid by a booster must constitute an NCAA violation, it's hard to accept the sanction in this case. If IU has to be punished, then punish IU. Dock Tom Crean some recruiting days or in-home visits. Make IU pay a fine. Hell, dock IU a scholarship if you think it's a big enough deal. But to deprive these two young men of a third of their freshman seasons seems misguided and gratuitously cruel. What questions should Mosquera-Perea and Jurkin have been asking? Should they have known that Mark Adams was an IU Varsity Club member before they were born? Did they understand his payments to them were with strings attached? Absent a "yes" answer to such questions, there simply has to be a better way.