In a pretty darned good job of journalistic gumshoeing, al.com’s Izzy Gould puts the period at the end of a long and silly recruiting story. Gould got a rare interview with the mother of Landon Collins, arguably the center of the 2012 season’s most talked about recruiting story, and puts this thing to bed.
But don’t expect it to stay there. This is the SEC, and some people just don’t like to let things like this “go away.”
April Justin, Landon Collins’ mother, didn’t mince words (as if we’d expected her to after the events of the last few weeks), and essentially destroyed the notion that her son was following a girlfriend to the University of Alabama and that the only reason the girlfriend was enrolling in Tuscaloosa was because of a cushy job offered by head coach Nick Saban.
There was no job.
Saban had pre-existing ties to the Lowery family, Justin said. He knows Victoria's mother, Annette Jackson-Lowery, a former LSU women's basketball player and a girls' basketball coach at Dutchtown where Collins and Victoria are students.
"There's accusations saying (Annette's) going to hand feed Landon to Saban and that basically my son is following her daughter, which is a lie," Justin said. "Since his junior year, when we first visited, we fell in love with the (Alabama) campus.
"Furthermore, there was an accusation saying she has a job for an internship. It's not a job. It's an intern in his office."
How much do student internships pay these days?
While Gould’s story goes on to cite NCAA by-laws 13.2.1 and 126.96.36.199, which govern offers and inducements to prospective student-athletes and their friends and relatives, a careful reading of both indicates that you’d have to work very hard to find any rulebreaking.
By-law 13.2.1 specifically mentions benefits or inducements to relatives and friends, but it also notes that they’re not violations if “the same benefit is generally available to the institution’s prospective students or their relatives or friends or to a particular segment of the student body.” So in order for offering a non-paying internship to be a recruiting violation, it has to be unavailable to the rest of the student body.
Gould also cites 188.8.131.52.(a), which specifically prohibits providing “an employment arrangement for a prospective student-athlete’s relatives.”
Ms. Lowery is not a relative.
This is consistent with my evaluation of the situation earlier today. A school cannot offer friends and relatives of prospects any benefit that is not also available to the student body at large. That is, if the girlfriend did get a job at the school, that job has to be available to all other students enrolled at the school.
Good luck arguing that an internship isn’t available to the student body, and good luck arguing that this is any sort of violation.
UPDATE: CapstoneReport.com has a different angle on Gould’s report. The timing of the report’s release does bring up interesting questions, and the difference between the type of reporting we get from the two al.com bureaus is worth discussion as well.