NCAA Expands Investigation Of Kentucky Recruit Nerlens Noel

LEXINGTON, KY - APRIL 17: Anthony Davis, Doron Lamb,Terrence Jones, John Calipari the Kentucky Wildcats, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague talks with the media during the news conference in which all five players announced they will enter the NBA draft at Joe Craft Center on April 17, 2012 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The NCAA has expanded its investigation into University of Kentucky incoming freshman Nerlens Noel, a 6'10 center who was regarded as one of the nation's top recruits in the class of 2012. The new investigation focuses on those surrounding Noel's recruitment and how he paid for unofficial visits.

The NCAA has expanded its investigation into University of Kentucky incoming freshman Nerlens Noel, according to a report in Sports Illustrated.

According to the report, NCAA officials visited Tilton School, Noel's prep school in New Hampshire, for a second time earlier this month after an initial trip in May. The NCAA is investigating the people involved in Noel's recruitment and how he paid for his unofficial visits.

This second meeting with school officials was different, though, due to the presence of Kentucky's chief compliance officer Sandy Bell, the report said.

"What made the NCAA's visit to Tilton intriguing is that a senior Kentucky official, UK chief compliance officer Sandy Bell, accompanied Merrill and Smith for the meeting," the report said. "Bell didn't ask many questions, according to the source, but did take notes and spoke up occasionally. The presence of two NCAA enforcement officials and Bell gives the appearance that this case has gone beyond the routine checking of top prospects, according to one former NCAA investigator."

Noel, a 6'10 center who was regarded as one of the nation's top recruits in the class of 2012, told CBSSports.com earlier this month that he had been academically cleared to play after taking two summer classes at Everett High School. Noel reclassified from the class of 2013.

This new investigation, though, doesn't deal with academics and focuses solely on those involved in his recruitment and how Noel paid for his unofficial visits, according to Sports Illustrated.

For more on the Kentucky Wildcats, make sure to check out A Sea of Blue.

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