We know that a lot money exchanges hands under the table in college sports, but rarely do we hear the recipients openly admit it.
But Shaquille O’Neal, speaking at a Lakers fan event, copped Tuesday to receiving cash while at LSU from 1989-90 to 1991-92.
Full Shaq quote on his time at LSU: "Yes, they paid very well. Statute of limitations is up. I can talk about it…That’s right baby, LSU.”
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) January 26, 2016
Though Shaq appeared to believe his alma mater was safe from punishment 25 years after this alleged infraction, he might have been mistaken, according to Sporting News:
According to the latest iteration of the NCAA’s rules, there are three exceptions to the typical four-year statute of limitations — one of which would appear to apply to O’Neal’s allegations.
Rule 19.5.11, Article C says that “(a)llegations that indicate a blatant disregard for the Association’s fundamental recruiting, extra-benefit, academic or ethical-conduct regulations or that involve an effort to conceal the occurrence of the violation” are among one of three instances not applicable to the NCAA’s four-year statute of limitations.
That would appear to mean that O’Neal’s admission, if true, could come back to bite LSU, even 24 years after he left Baton Rouge.
As for the NCAA’s policy with handling these types of allegations: “In such cases, the enforcement staff shall have a one-year period after the date information concerning the matter becomes available to the NCAA to investigate and submit to the institution a notice of allegations concerning the matter,” the statute continues.
It should be no shock that Shaq — who averaged 21.6 points and 13.5 rebounds a game in three seasons in Baton Rouge before becoming the first pick in the 1992 NBA Draft — got some extra cash, but it’s a little surprising to hear him admit it so freely.
Shaq’s comments call to mind Arian Foster’s admission that he received extra benefits while playing football at Tennessee. But while Foster justified taking money by explaining how he was broke and lacking groceries, hoping to make a point about the corruption of the NCAA, Shaq seems to just have been bragging.
There is obviously no sense in shaming Shaq for accepting money 25 years ago. In fact, there’s no sense in shaming any star college athlete for accepting money from boosters. Not many people would turn down free money from millionaires desperate to ply them.
Really, the more athletes that admit NCAA amateurism is a fraud, the more likely it is we see substantial reform to the system of college sports.