CLEMSON — Wednesday afternoon brought some surprising news: Clemson sophomore linebacker Lateek Townsend served a four-game NCAA suspension after accepting extra benefits from an assistant coach at Marlboro County High School.
Friday – and Clemson’s bi-annual release of its NCAA secondary violations – brought context.
According to the report, he received $2367 of illegal benefits, which he has been ordered to repay to a charity of his choice. Clemson and the NCAA have set up a payment plan for him to do so.
Clemson never releases the names of student-athletes involved in violations, but the details match the scenario laid out Wednesday by sports information director Tim Bourret.
The unnamed assistant coach provided Townsend with two years of cell phone service, totaling $1767. He was also “marketing (Townsend) to other collegiate institutions”. He provided him impermissible transportation to an unofficial visit by a representative of athletic interest, which totaled $230, and gave Townsend and his brother two Clemson polo shirts and a high school sweatshirt as Christmas gifts, totaling $330.
Townsend also received a four-game suspension, which he served at the beginning of last season. When he took the field, Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele told reporters that he thought the freshman could help on special teams, which he did, making 16 tackles in 10 games.
Originally, he was slated for a redshirt, but the NCAA told Clemson that suspensions can’t be served during a redshirt year; it would roll over to 2012. Consequently, Townsend played.
The Townsend details were the highlight of the release, which featured nine secondary violations.
In another violation, a coach informed compliance that they overhead several athletes discussing a spring break trip to Miami and meeting with former teammates training in the area. Compliance met with the athletes and learned that two received an extra benefit by staying in a hotel suite provided by a former teammate’s agent. Five people were in the suite, and the rate was $379 per night. The athletes were required to donate $76 each to a local charity.
A female athlete received prize money above actual expenses in 11 competitions before coming to Clemson; she was required to repay the money to a charity.
An assistant coach was prohibited from contact with a prospect for two weeks after posting a congratulatory message on their Facebook wall. The assistant self-reported the violation after it was pointed out by an opposing assistant coach.
In addition, the name of an athlete (believed to be wide receiver Sammy Watkins) appeared in a newspaper advertisement promoting his appearance at a commercial business (believed to be a Christmas party at a bar in Watkins’ hometown of Fort Myers, Fla.) The advertisement was forwarded to another school’s compliance office, which brought it to Clemson’s attention.
The advertisement also included players from West Virginia and South Florida.
Clemson sent a cease-and-desist letter to the business, and Watkins did not receive punishment.
In another case, a current athlete’s photo was used to promote a local business. A cease-and-desist letter was also sent to that business.