Tuesday, March 13, 2012

ESPN Host sends tweet in possible NCAA violation

Ryan Burr, ESPN’s college basketball show host and SportsCenter anchor, showed perhaps a bit too much enthusiasm for his alma mater and sent a public tweet all but begging a prospective student athlete to join the Syracuse Orange.

imageOops.

Burr is a graduate of Syracuse, according to his profile on ESPN Media Zone. As such, he would likely be determined to be a “booster.”

NCAA Bylaw 13.02.11 defines the term "booster." In part, the rule states: 
"A booster (i.e., representative of the institution's athletics interests) is an individual, independent agency, corporate entity (e.g. apparel or equipment manufacturer) or other organization who is known (or who should have known) by a member of the institution's executive or athletics administration to:
  • Have participated in or to be a member of an agency or organization promoting the institution's intercollegiate athletics program;
  • Have made financial contributions to the athletics department or to an athletics booster organization of that institution;
  • Be assisting or to have been requested (by the athletics department staff) to assist in the recruitment of prospects;
  • Be assisting or to have assisted in providing benefits to enrolled student-athletes or their families; or
  • Have been involved otherwise in promoting the institution's athletics program.
There’s a lot of grey area here. Just being a graduate may (or may not) land you in the booster territory unless you’ve done other things that promote the school. And while Burr specifically mentioned the prospect’s name, he didn’t address his invitation directly to the prospect’s Twitter account (if he has one).

Furthermore, social media is becoming a nightmare for compliance officials. Earlier this month, a Notre Dame player crossed a similar line. Coaches have been inadvertently doing it. Boosters and fans have been doing it, too. It’s chaos.

Even if Burr doesn’t meet the definition of a booster, how can ESPN let its on-air talent blatantly recruit for his alma mater? I’m sure they probably don’t, and I’m sure that Burr’s tweet gets deleted quickly.

UPDATE: Burr has deleted the tweet.

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