Huh, I never even realized that you could legally adopt someone who's already an adult. Weird. I agree that this could very well be a money-making venture via tying yourself to someone with high future earning potential. I wonder if this is really the start of a trend though when you consider how often even the highest rated guys go bust and flare out of the NFL quickly or never even make it onto a practice squad. You've then legally connected yourself to somebody that's more of a financial drain than a boon.
Get ready to the name of Florida defensive tackle Shariff Floyd a lot more often. According to USA Today, the junior might have opened up a loophole in the NCAA rule book that’s big enough to drive a truck — or at least an SEC D-lineman — through.
In 2011, Floyd was suspended two games by the NCAA and forced to repay money (see: extra benefits) that was given to him by a Florida businessman “who had mentored him.” In response, Kevin Lahn turned around and adopted the 20-year-old Floyd legally. And now he can give Floyd all the money/gifts that he likes. He’s a parent now, not a fan, mentor, booster or businessman.
If Lahn’s name sounds familiar, it’s likely because he was dissociated from South Carolina — his own alma mater — in 2011 following an NCAA investigation into the Gamecocks’ program.
“(The adoption) was not something we planned, but it’s been a natural fit…
My wife and I love Sharrif and he feels the same way about us.”
The issue, obviously, is that any booster or third-party who wants to go through the legal red tape of adopting an athlete — even an athlete already in college and in his 20s — can do so and then provide any benefit he likes to the player. Why would anyone do that for any reason other than love of the player? Well, if you’re a cynic like me, because the adoptive parent might see some NFL or NBA dollars rolling back to the player — and his loving adoptive family — at some point in the future.
As for Lahn, he provided Floyd with an apartment and a 2012 Ford Explorer XLT soon after the adoption was completed last year. Floyd was also given a credit card for food (and a trip to Disney World). The family also took Floyd and his fellow Gator teammates Ronald Powell and Dominique Easley (as well as former UF player Jonathan Dowling) on a trip on an 80-foot yacht to celebrate Floyd’s 21st birthday.
That trip could be a violation if the Lahn’s paid for Powell and Easley to join the in South Florida for the trip. Lahn claims he ran the trip by University of Florida officials and was given the go-ahead.
USA Today’s in-depth report into the matter goes on from there and it’s a very detailed, interesting read. Click that pretty red link above to see for yourself.
But the bottom line here is that the Lahns might have backed the NCAA into a pretty tough corner. Either college sports governing body can start weighing in on what is a legitimate adoption and what isn’t — good luck with that — or other third parties now have a clear road map on how to circumvent NCAA rules.