In the NCAAs report on Florida freshman forward Chris Walker, the govering agency of college sports expressed concern about the “third-party influence, improper agent involvement and the role of nonscholastic basketball impact student-athletes and prospect.”
But in talking to Florida coach Billy Donovan about the issue on Friday, he feels the NCAA is fighting an uphill battle on the issue.
““Everybody is involved with third parties,” Donovan said. “Everybody is involved. It’s everybody’s issue. It’s just kind of the way of the world. I think some of the rules to come out with third party and some of those things, like I said earlier, it’s impossible to police it all.”
Walker received a 12-game suspension from the NCAA for receiving impermissible benefits from five different people, including two agents. The benefits for the McDonald’s All-American from Bonifay ranged from free cell phones and free cell phone service, to free travel to events, to free meals and travel and even $270 in cash from two agents.
“The hard part right now, what goes on in the summer time, I think it’s really difficult for the NCAA to police all of that stuff and I would imagine in some way there are a lot of kids out there right now that don’t know that this is not allowed, that you can’t do this, that this is an extra added benefit,” Donovan said. “You know, whether it had been a trip somewhere, or you know I thought it was OK, I mean I think that that happens
“I think from a college standpoint once these guys get to school here, I think our institution tries to do a really good job in terms of educating these guys on the rules, what they can and can’t do, what they are allowed to take, what they can’t take.”
Donovan praised Walker’s guardian, Jeneen Campbell, and Walker for cooperating during the NCAA investigation.
“She was forthright, she was open, she was honest,” Donovan said. “And I respect Chris from this standpoint. When he had a chance to sit down and speak with them, he was open and honest and basically told them everything they needed to know, and probably gave them a lot more they weren’t even aware of. I respect Chris for that. And I think Jeneen did the same thing.
But Donovan refused to go as far as to suggest that Walker was taken advantage of by outside influences.
“I don’t think this was something that was done in a kind of a cunning, deceitful way,” Donovan said. “It was one of those things, kind of like, ‘Wow.’ There was probably some naivete there. Like I said, Chris Walker, his family, the people involved around Chris are good people. You know, I don’t know who made the decisions, why it happened, how it happened, what was the reason for any of those things. I really don’t. I don’t even know all the parties involved. I’ve obviously dealt with Jeneen because in the recruiting process Chris stays with her. And I like I said she’s a great lady and has always been supportive. But all the other people involved, I’m not so sure about those other people.
“But to sit there and say it’s the adults fault, I’m not so sure that even a lot times the adults knew a lot of the rules, nor is it their responsibility to know the rules. Heck, there’s high school institutions that don’t even know the rules. That’s not nobody’s fault. It’s probably difficult for the NCAA to educate an entire nation. They try to do the best they can when they can. But at the same point, I don’t want to say the adults are to blame in this and those kinds of things. Because I think there are a lot of people who have done a lot of great things for Chris for the right reasons.”