August 23, 2006

Irish athletes cleared by NCAA

The University of Notre Dame announced Wednesday afternoon that the NCAA has cleared three athletes for their involvement in a local TV station's sports show promotion.

"The matter that was raised over the weekend has been resolved," announced senior associate athletics director John Heisler.

"Our compliance staff provided the details and information to the NCAA. The NCAA called back this afternoon and indicated that as far as they're concerned, the matter is closed, there are no penalties involved, there are no eligibility issues."

Football player Tom Zbikowski and basketball players Luke Zeller and Kyle McAlarney taped "bumps" for WSBT-TV's "Sports Dogz." The bumps-brief promotions as the show transitioned in and out of commercial breaks-were taped over a four-year span, according to the local CBS affiliate.

Last Saturday the South Bend Tribune and the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported that Notre Dame was investigating a possible rules violation involving some of its athletes, who were later identified as Zbikowski, Zeller and McAlarney

"If someone from the station had called me and asked me, we certainly would have looked into it and come to the conclusion (that it should be) prohibited from occurring," said associate athletics director Mike Karwoski, who is in charge of the University's compliance with the NCAA.

"You investigate the situation and try to get the facts. You talk to the people who were involved in this particular situation. You talk with the student-athletes, you talk to the television station, and then you submit your report to the NCAA."

NCAA bylaw 12.5.3 states that eligible student-athletes "shall not make any endorsement, expressed or implied, of any commercial product or service."

The violations were ruled to be secondary, although all three athletes provided an "implied endorsement of the show." Technically, the student-athletes were ineligible for a two-day period this week until the call came from the NCAA Wednesday at 5 p.m. Zbikowski was allowed to continue to practice with the football team during his ineligibility.

"There are no additional penalties or sanctions, and there are no eligibility consequences," Karwoski said.

Karwoski said there's a lesson to be learned from this situation.

"Our mantra here is ask before you act, so whether it be student-athletes or staff members or people in the community or alumni, we want people to ask questions before they do something," Karwoski said.



 

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