December 20, 2011
This story has been updated. See the bottom of the post for breaking news.
As reported on Monday, the NCAA has gotten wind of the flier North Carolina receiver Dwight Jones posted on his Facebook page over the weekend — the one touting the "1st Annual Dwight Jones New Years Birthday Celebration," and featuring $20 bills falling into the frame from untold heights — and incredibly, it doesn't like what it sees. Which means Dwight Jones may be spending his last college game chilling on the bench. From the Charlotte Observer:
The University of North Carolina on Tuesday declared Dwight Jones, the Tar Heels leading receiver, ineligible for the Independence Bowl after Jones allowed his name and image to be used to promote a party in Burlington, his hometown.
NCAA rules prohibit athletes from allowing their name or image to be used to promote an off-campus business or for-profit entity. Jones committed a secondary NCAA violation when he allowed his name and image to promote a birthday party in his honor on New Year's Eve.
UNC has applied to the NCAA for Jones' reinstatement. Jones apologized in a statement and said the party has been canceled.
The flier — featuring not only Jones' name but also his picture in a UNC uniform, both potential NCAA violations — promises free admission to the "first 24 ladies" at the door, plus "24 free shots every hour on the hour" and a $500 cash giveaway for "some lucky ladies in the building," all courtesy of D. Jones. (Admission starts at $10, if you're interested, or $20 for VIP. Dress code is "sexxxy casual.") It also touts Jones as a "2012 NFL Projected Top Draft Pick."
Time will tell if the soiree has actually been canceled or merely "canceled": Considering it's scheduled for five days after the Tar Heels' appearance in the Independence Bowl — Jones' final game in a North Carolina uniform, if he gets to play — the party will have no bearing on his future eligibility. As a senior, he doesn't have any future eligibility.
But the point here from North Carolina's perspective isn't whether its star receiver attends a party or violates a thousand NCAA rules when he won't be setting foot on a college field again. The point is that North Carolina is making a token effort to stay kosher while Jones is still under its roof. As of Dec. 27, he's free to declare for the draft, hire an agent, bathe in a waterfall made of cash and tell the NCAA to take its moldering amateurism rules and shove 'em. As long as UNC put its foot down when it had the chance — and it has — Jones' post-Independence Bowl social life isn't on the compliance department anymore.
That's a good thing, because North Carolina is still awaiting its fate from the NCAA on a litany of major violations, including "failure to monitor social media" in the wake of former defensive lineman Marvin Austin's tweet heard 'round the world last May. UNC has already fired its head coach and athletic director, vacated 16 wins from the 2008-09 seasons and put itself on two years probation. The last thing it needs is another excuse for the Infractions Committee to add to the pain.
UPDATE, 12/21, 11:56 a.m. ET. With the party off and Carolina's swift response on the record, Jones has been cleared to play in the Independence Bowl this morning. Unfortunately, the first 24 ladies at the gate in Shreveport still have to pay full price for their tickets.
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