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You all may have heard Brian Bowen was recently cleared by the FBI in their investigation of a pay to play scandal in college hoops. It is important to note, he was cleared in the FBI investigation, but not cleared to play for UofL. The news from yesterday is simply that UofL can now investigate if Bowen is eligible to suit up and play in games for UofL or not.
From reading Tim Sullivan’s article in the Courier Journal, it appears Bowen was used by his father as a pawn for money. Bowen’s lawyer, whose words must be taken with a grain of salt, indicates Bowen was completely unaware of his father’s scheming. The article certainly makes it seem like the FBI is tacitly approving this narrative.
— Tim Sullivan (@TimSullivan714) November 2, 2017
Even if that’s the case, it may not mean he ever plays a minute for UofL. It’s unknown at this point who makes the call on Brian Bowen playing. It could be UofL if he was simply suspended by the school or it could be the NCAA if he was declared ineligible by them. It’s not clear what Bowen’s status truly is and whose decision it is to reinstate him or not.
I must point out that just because the FBI found no wrongdoing criminally does not mean there were no NCAA rules broken. This must be kept in mind Cards fans. The NCAA is an entity entirely separate from the US Government with completely different sets of rules and bylaws.
So, the question is, should Brian Bowen play as a Cardinal? It’s not a simple yes or no question. Bowen’s attorney paints him as a victim. The evidence offered up in Sullivan’s article from the FBI investigation seems to support this.
Bowen’s father was shopping him around unbeknownst to Bowen himself. Going strictly by this information, my opinion is Bowen should be allowed to play. He’s a victim in this as was UofL.
Yet, as we know, NCAA rules are convoluted, messy, and often unjust. Unfortunately, UofL is a member institution and must abide by these rules. Yes, the NCAA is corrupt and a derelict institution. However, we are a part of it; like it or not.
There’s a rule in place that may make Bowen ineligible regardless of his knowledge of his father’s scheme. A rule passed after a similar situation with a football player named Cam Newton.
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Newton’s father once tried to sell his son’s services to Mississippi State for cash. When this was uncovered, Newton was suspended until the matter was investigated. It took only a day to determine this was true, but that Newton had no knowledge of the deal and therefore was eligible as no rule existed to punish Newton.
The NCAA is trying to end plausible deniability as a defense for rule breaking. We have seen it recently with coaches. Rick Pitino was brought down by the new rule for head coaches making them responsible for any violations committed in their program regardless if they knew.
It appears after the Cam Newton mess, the NCAA is also trying to end this loophole for players as well. In 2012, the NCAA passed a new rule under bylaw 12. The so-called “Cecil Newton” rule.
Now parents, if they try to solicit money in exchange for their child playing at a certain school, are considered agents. This would make the player, regardless if he knew, ineligible.
There is, of course, the possibility the NCAA could allow Bowen to regain his eligibility if he is or was declared ineligible. He could do so by repaying any amount of money gained through the scheme, completing some type of community service, and/or sitting out a yet to be determined amount of games.
Right now, none of us knows if Bowen was declared ineligible or simply is being withheld from the team via suspension by UofL. There’s the possibility he never loses eligibility. It is remote, however, as the situation seems like a textbook example of the ”Cecil Newton” rule.
Some people are of the opinion we should simply forget the NCAA and just play Bowen. Part of me gets where people are coming from. UofL got hammered for cooperating while UNC got away scot-free fighting the NCAA all the way. UofL is likely to be hammered by the NCAA again for Bowen. Why not play him, win a title, and then fight the NCAA if they come for that banner? I get the sentiment.
We cannot do this, however. We’d likely lose that battle. It would be unfair to all the other players on the team if we play Bowen in spite of NCAA rules. Besides, we all want things cleaned up. None of us like seeing the school we grew up loving getting drug through the mud. Whatever is determined, UofL must abide by it.
My personal hope is Brian Bowen gets to play if he indeed was used as a pawn by his father. He’s a just a kid trying to play basketball at a school he apparently likes. There’s always the cynic in me though, that would question how he didn’t know something was amiss. Then again, adults treated him like a cash cow; especially the ones who should have had his best interests at heart.
As you can see, there is no clear yes or no answer on this. All fans can do is wait and see.