LEXINGTON, KY -- A seemingly harmless question has led to the discovery of multiple NCAA rules violations and the banishment of a Lexington institution, Joe Bologna's Restaurant, from association with UK athletics for three years, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader in its Saturday edition.
The question was, "What kind of tippers are University of Kentucky basketball players? As Joe Bologna recalled, a waitress happened to mention to a UK athletics department staffer in the summer of 2008 that the players tipped well. "But," the waitress added, "Joe always 'comps' their food."
Fast forward to a two-page letter dated Nov. 3, 2008. UK compliance officer Sandy Bell wrote Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive telling him that the school was self-reporting a violation of NCAA Bylaw 184.108.40.206.6.
After first claiming he had no knowledge of free meals for players, Bologna admitted in follow-up meetings that he did not charge the players for food and, furthermore, knew this was a rules violation.
Bell wrote Slive that "this willful violation" of NCAA rules and "subsequent reluctance to be truthful during the investigation" would result in Bologna and his off-campus restaurant being disassociated from UK Athletics for three years, retroactive to August 2008.
Such is the world of secondary NCAA rules violations. They can come fast and from unexpected places. UK records obtained in a Freedom of Information request showed 59 such violations from 2004 to 2008.
The teams involved included men's and women's basketball, football, men's and women's golf, men's and women's track and field, diving, gymnastics, volleyball, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's soccer, rifle and softball.
Host Communications, the former rights holder for radio and television coverage, was involved in two secondary violations, reports The Lexington Herald-Leader.
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