While the alleged violations are secondary and most likely could be handled, former LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu could see his return to the field complicated.
First is SI’s cover story from Pete Thamel, documenting the Honey Badger’s troubled upbringing and ties to some rather unsavory characters. That story also included details on what is likely impermissible behavior in promotion of club events. Those types of violations are common across the country and rarely have a substantial impact on the kids’ eligibility, once certain conditions are met.
But ByLaw Blog’s John Infante indicates that timing is everything, and that if the school really wants to give Mathieu a path back to the team, they’ll have to move a little more quickly than some originally thought.
The more immediate issue is that Mathieu’s return to the LSU team may now include a long and complex reinstatement case with the NCAA. Gathering information takes time, especially from individuals not covered by NCAA rules. It could take a couple of months for LSU to complete the case documentation, plus another few weeks for the NCAA to make a decision. Throw in the possibility of an appeal and things could take even longer.
That means LSU needs to decide as soon as possible whether Mathieu will be reinstated. A case like this cannot be started after summer school, for instance, and it be assured that a final decision will be made before the season. At the very least, LSU would need to decide what conditions Mathieu needs to meet to rejoin the team, and begin working on his case as long as he holds up his end of the bargain.
Judging from Thamel’s story this morning, secondary NCAA violations are the least of Mathieu’s demons. Drugs, association with a thuggish culture and dealing with the mental and emotional issues of his upbringing seem to spell trouble for the talented player who made such a splash last season.
While LSU should make their decision swiftly, what they need to do more than anything else is make sure the Honey Badger exorcises all of those other demons and gets back on a path to citizenship. Stardom should wait.