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Vandy’s Ezeli Suspended Six Games For Accepting Improper Benefits

Vanderbilt is expected to have a Top 10-caliber hoops team this season.  Vanderbilt is expected to challenge Kentucky and Florida for the SEC championship.  But Vanderbilt has an early-season problem on its hands.

Senior center Festus Ezeli has been suspended for the first six games of the season for accepting improper benefits from a Vanderbilt alum.  Ezeli had a meal — egads! — and a hotel room paid for by the VU fan while he was visiting friends this summer.

“I am very sorry and would never want to jeopardize my college career over such a petty thing as a meal or a hotel room,” the 6-11 big man said in a press release.  “I would have been able to afford those things myself.  I have always tried to do the right thing; I should have known better and am embarrassed that my mistake could affect my team.”

Vanderbilt officials reported the violation to the SEC and the NCAA in early August.

“Festus Ezeli is a good, honest student-athlete that accepted an act of kindness from a Vanderbilt alum and now faces the consequences,” said vice chancellor of athletics David Williams.  “We have a very good compliance education process in place and this incident shows how easily someone can fall astray, even with the best intentions.  We discovered this matter, reported it promptly and cooperated fully with the NCAA and its process and well abide by its conclusion.”

This story will no doubt leave NCAA-haters — and they are legion — outraged.  “A meal and a hotel room,” they’ll shout.

While we agree this seems to be “a petty thing,” the NCAA must draw a line somewhere.  When dealing with thousands of athletes across the country, it’s easier to just nix any kind of extra benefit altogether.  If the NCAA went about it any other way, there would be debates about what the cut-off point should be:

Four meals are okay, but five are too many?

Dinner at McDonald’s is okay, but dinner at a top-dollar restaurant is not?

A weekend hotel stay is okay, but three nights is too many?

So the NCAA drew the line and Ezeli stepped over it.  At least he’ll be back before conference play starts.  Of course, any early season losses the Commodores suffer as a result of his the center’s absence could impact the team’s RPI — and thus seeding — come March.



Cam Newton was not available for comment.


The biggest problem I have with the NCAA is that they claim to be interested in benefiting the student athlete and making sure that athletes are treated just like every other student on campus. Well, that's pretty much crap. If a donor wanted to buy a regular student a meal because he liked that kid's profile and wanted him to work at his company one day then there's no law against that. But you can't treat athletes in the same manner.

I understand that athletes get passes in other areas that normal students would not, but the inconsistencies within the system are amazing to me. I wish we had a system that forced athletes to be subject to all the same standards and also receive all the same benefits of a regular student.


I don't think you went far enough with the following statement: " While we agree this seems to be “a petty thing,” the NCAA must draw a line somewhere." It would have been more accurate if you had said.............the NCAA must draw a line somewhere for some schools and players........never mind that they choose to look the other way when they see it in their best interest to do so.


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