Oklahoma Limiting Illicit Benefits at Universities

By Deleanie Moriello, Marketing Director

The wait is over and the season meant for tailgating and good company is back. Finally, it’s football time in Oklahoma. The Sooners and Pokes kicked off the first two weeks with W’s and are rising in the AP Polls. For many collegiate sports programs, the athletes, coaches, staff, fans, alumni associations, and booster clubs are vital to help make your game day experience memorable. But what happens when booster clubs or members interfere with collegiate programs and NCAA guidelines?

In 2016, the University of Mississippi athletic department was investigated for allegations of academic fraud, unlawful booster involvement and extra benefits for the athletic program. The NCAA investigation for the Ole Miss athletic program came to light right before the NFL Draft. Laremy Tunsil, a top tackle prospect, was featured in a video smoking marijuana on his Twitter feed. The video went viral, along with screenshots of text messages asking for finances from an Ole Miss coach to pay his family’s electric bill.

However, this wasn’t the first time NCAA investigated Ole Miss. Since 2012, the NCAA investigated the women’s basketball program, three other sports and 28 NCAA allegations. These allegations included fixing ACT scores, substantial booster involvement and extra funds for players, recruits and families. Because of these allegations, the university itself is facing many sanctions.

Excessive booster club participation has affected many other universities in the nation. In order to make sure universities in Oklahoma comply with NCAA guidelines, Governor Mary Fallin passed Senate Bill 425 in April 2017. The law allows universities to sue boosters who trigger school sanctions. For example, if a student accepts funds from a booster club that violates NCAA rules then the university could get fined. If they do, the court could order the booster to pay back that fine to the school. Many booster supporters believe it is a way to keep the program and club accountable. The bill will go into effect November 1, 2017.

So, let the game day celebrations continue while complying with the law. Boomer Sooner and Go Pokes!

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