The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Arizona athletic director asks fans to help police the program

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Since Arizona's four-person compliance staff can't possibly monitor every student-athlete on campus at all times, athletic director Greg Byrne is going to unusual lengths to make sure the Wildcats don't run afoul of NCAA rules.

In an email sent to fans Wednesday, Byrne says the NCAA investigation into extra benefits received by Ohio State football players provides a chance "to communicate with our fan base and internally on the absolute need to pay attention to the rules everyday." Byrne then encourages readers to check out the Sports Illustrated article detailing the allegations against the Buckeyes and challenges Arizona fans to police their own program.

"We are one bad decision by a coach, employee, student-athlete and/or community member/fan from facing significant challenges that can damage our university and athletic program for many years to come," Byrne writes.  "If you ever know of a situation where a student-athlete is receiving an extra benefit (something that the rest of the student body would not receive) please contact me ... or our compliance department."

It's admirable that Arizona is so proactive in order to avoid rules violations on its campus, but it's also difficult to imagine a fan coming forward to report that a Wildcats basketball or football player is receiving a sweetheart deal at a Tucson bar or car dealer.

Ohio State fans crucified the editor-and-chief of the university's student paper for running a story in which a former Buckeyes wide receiver admitted to selling Big Ten championship rings and assorted memorabilia in exchange for cash while he was a student. Imagine how much more vicious the Buckeyes faithful might have been had the person turning the program in been a regular fan rather than a journalist.

Maybe Arizona fans are more rules-conscious than that, or perhaps they're more capable of understanding the bigger picture that reporting a small rules violation now can avoid a program-killing investigation in the future.  More likely, however, it's just human nature that it's difficult for fans of a team to also police it.

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