The rumblings about the eligibility of IU big men Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin have finally led to some hard news tonight, and it isn't good news for the nation's top-ranked basketball program. Perea and Jurkin, both of whom came to America under the umbrella of the A-Hope charity program run by IU alumnus and Bloomington resident Mark Adams, have been suspended for one third of the regular season, a total of nine 9 games. I've been up since 3:30 this morning, so you will have to forgive me for linking rather than providing a full copy of the IU and NCAA releases. The Hoosier Scoop has IU's statement. Inside the Hall has the .pdf of IU's and the NCAA's letters in this matter. The essence is this;
Mark Adams graduated from IU in 1980. His alumni status alone did not make him an IU booster. His Bloomington residence and what the NCAA describes as something of a close association with the IU basketball program didn't make him a booster. What made Adams a booster are a handful of contributions made by Adams and his ex-wife to the IU Varsity club: $30 in 1986; $30 in 1987; $30 in 1990; $45 in 1991; $50 in 1992; a total of $185. Mr. and Mrs. Adams made their final contribution on November 20, 1992. Sometime within the next year or two, Mosquera-Perea and Jurkin were born.
I do not, as a general matter, have an issue with the NCAA's rules concerning boosters. Absent such rules, universities could play dumb while well-heeled season ticket holders spent all sorts of money on athletes; think of the "Happy" character in Blue Chips. But what galls about this decision is what appears to be a complete lack of a nexus between the booster status and the benefits paid to the athletes. Adams made a few nominal payments that ended two decades before either of these young men enrolled at IU. The financial contributions made by Adams to Perea and Jurkin came 15 years or more after his last smallish donation to IU. I understand why the booster rules are on the books, but shouldn't there be some connection between the status and the supposedly improper benefits?
Finally, what is really upsetting about this, what makes the NCAA look incredibly petty and vile, is the NCAA's requirement that Jurkin repay $250 and Perea repay $1,588.69. These young men did nothing wrong by any standard. Setting aside that neither of them grew up around major college athletics, this is not a matter of pay for play. It's simply absurd.
I am sure I will have more to say about this one in the coming days, but I'm about spent for tonight. It's also worth considering that IU is now extremely thin in the frontcourt, with HMP and Jurkin out until the Butler game on December 15 and with Derek Elston out for at least a few weeks following knee surgery. IU still is going to be very good, but the Hoosiers will not be at full strength against UNC or in the Barclays Classic. It's a bit of a drag on what otherwise is an exciting week.