TCU contends that star tailback Andre Davis unknowingly violated
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ TCU contends that star tailback Andre Davis unknowingly violated NCAA rules by accepting monetary benefits from a former roommate.
As required by the NCAA, Texas Christian has declared Davis ineligible to play because of the apparent violations.
But TCU ``has reason to think that Davis was not aware that these actions were rules violations. Based on this, TCU has requested immediate restoration of Davis’ eligibility,″ according to a statement released Thursday from the school.
``He is ineligible. We’ve asked for restoration of eligibility. That has gone to the NCAA and we hope to hear something (today),″ athletic director Frank Windegger said Thursday. ``That is in their hands now.″
Bill Saum, an NCAA enforcement representative, said a ruling on Davis’ eligibility probably would come today.
The NCAA obtained documents showing that Houston lawyer Jeffrey Newport, a professional sports agent, bought disability insurance for Davis, former TCU teammate Jimmy Oliver and a Jackson State receiver, last December.
A check for $5,940 was drawn Dec. 29, 1994, on Newport’s account and made payable to Pro Financial Services of Schaumburg, Ill., the chief U.S. correspondent for Lloyd’s of London.
A notation on the check indicates the policy was for Davis, Jackson State’s Greg Spann and Oliver, according to reports.
According to the TCU statement, Davis began receiving monetary benefits from a former roommate last December. Because these benefits were from his friend, Davis did not consider them to be improper.
``The university concludes that a violation of NCAA bylaws occurred because the anticipation of repayment of these benefits was based on Davis’ potential earning as a professional athlete.
``Also, disability insurance policies in Davis’ name were not placed on file with the university,″ the statement continued.
Newport has not returned repeated messages left this week by The Associated Press.
Under NCAA rules, student-athletes may not receive disability insurance or any other benefits through an agent. An athlete found to have violated the regulations can lose his eligibility and must seek to have it restored by the NCAA.
TCU withheld Davis, the Southwest Conference’s leading rusher, from last Saturday’s game against Tulane pending completion of its inquiry.
Davis’ possible ignorance of the source of the benefits could play a part in the NCAA’s decision, Saum said.
``How (the) eligibility (department) is going to make their final call, I’m not privy to at this point,″ he said.
Saum emphasized that there is no indication that TCU athletic officials knew or should have known about the payments.
``It’s very frustrating,″ he continued. ``It’s outside parties, such as agents, that are disrupting the eligibility of our student-athletes. And that frustrates our athletes, it frustrates our schools and it frustrates us. And we hope that those agents are held accountable for their actions.″
Texas’ athlete agent law, enacted in 1987, prescribes civil and criminal penalties for sports agents who offer cash or other gifts to anyone competing for state colleges and universities.
The Texas Secretary of State’s office is looking into whether Newport violated any laws in his dealings with the three.
``We’re really in the beginning stages of it, to be quite honest,″ Gene Acuna, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office, said. ``Whether ... the agent was registered with the state is at least the preliminary question that we’re looking at and moving on from there.″
The stiffest criminal penalty an agent could receive if found to have meddled with a college player is one year in prison on a misdemeanor conviction, said Guy Joyner, who directs the Secretary of State’s efforts to oversee sports agents. The civil fine in such a case could be as much as $25,000.