Let me get this straight.
A man from Athens, Ala., takes two Alabama football players on a fishing trip earlier this year and now the players might be suspended when the fifth-ranked Crimson Tide opens the 2009 season Sept. 5 against seventh-ranked Virginia Tech at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff.
Did I miss something?
It sounds kind of fishy to me, but reportedly Curtis Anderson, a 56-year-old man from Athens, took Tide sophomore receiver Julio Jones and sophomore running Mark Ingram on a Gulf Coast fishing trip, which Anderson paid for. Anderson claims the players are friends of his.
The Alabama compliance department got wind of the fishing expedition and decided to investigate, as a precaution, for potential NCAA violations.
Following its probe, the university stated that Anderson is "not affiliated with UA. He is not a UA booster, fan or alumnus, and is not a UA season ticket holder," according to a statement by Deborah Lane, assistant to the president and assistant vice president for university relations.
Alabama has not self-imposed any penalties or reported violations, but has turned over findings for approval by the Southeastern Conference. It might do the same with the NCAA.
While all this is going on, Tide head coach Nick Saban has little to say. Responding to a question about the situation on Tuesday, Saban said: "I really can't comment on that. I think the institution has shown great integrity in the way they've handled the situation. It's in someone else's hands, and until it gets decided, I have no comment."
To me, this whole affair is absurd. I understand NCAA rules about giving athletes preferential treatment, but this seemingly is just a story about some fishing buddies -- despite their differences in age -- getting together for a little R&R while trying to land some bass or snappers or flounders or whatever. One report said the likely cost of the trip for Anderson, Jones and Ingram was fewer than $100 per person.
From what I read about the matter, no rules were broken, and if they were, simply let Jones and Ingram repay the man for the trip and get back to the business of football and Virginia Tech. I definitely don’t think this warrants any suspension (although stranger things have happened when it comes to the NCAA, especially as it relates to Alabama. Anyone remember Textbookgate?).
By the way, I wonder what their haul (of fish, that is) was -- if the fish indeed were biting.