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Are colleges mocking the NCAA with false violations?

Unfortunately, pastagate, girlfriendgate and icinggate aren't real. Do schools misunderstand the NCAA rules that badly or are they just trolling?

Mark Metcalfe

The NCAA has some very dumb rules. Even people who have never seen the organization's rulebook know this, so every time we see a newly reported NCAA violation that seems especially absurd, it's easy to all go LOL NCAA in unison. That's happened four times so far this offseason.

First, there was Oklahoma's pastagate, in which the Sooners reported that some of their athletes had excessive portions of pasta. Then, there was Oklahoma's girlfriendgate, when a former OU player claimed the NCAA made him and his girlfriend sign an affidavit acknowledging that she wasn't just dating him because he was a football player. Our Steven Godfrey discussed these silly violations with Oklahoma's compliance department.

The silliness hasn't been limited to Oklahoma. South Carolina reported to the NCAA that it had committed a violation by adding icing to a cookie cake given to a recruit. And now, Oregon has given us the latest absurd NCAA violation, claiming that it was in the wrong for allowing its athletes to play mini golf and laser tag as forms of entertainment:

At a team meal for the Oregon baseball team, there was "impermissible entertainment" in the form of miniature golf and laser tag. Teams can provide an occasional meal for their athletes -- Sykes said Oregon's athletes are allowed to be provided 12 meals per academic year -- and entertainment, too. In this case, Sykes said, the entertainment must have been considered excessive.

Obviously, all four of those "violations" are ridiculous, and we can all laugh at the NCAA for having absurd rules. But the problem is, the first three ended up not even being violations at all. There are no NCAA rules governing portion sizes, there are no rules governing cookie cake decorations and there are very obviously no rules that force athletes to sign affidavits when they date someone.

For all we know, the Oregon "violation" could end up being a non-issue, too. Oregon's head compliance officer told The Oregonian that it "must have been" considered a violation, like the NCAA told her it was and she just sat there saying "welp." But the NCAA didn't report this; Oregon did, and given that it doesn't seem any more excessive than the trips some teams take to professional sporting events, there's reason to believe the NCAA may not even process it as a violation — just like pastagate, girlfriendgate and icinggate.

More interesting than these funny faux violations is the recent trend of athletic departments reporting absolute nonsense to the NCAA, getting a big ol' LOL NCAA out of everyone and waiting for the NCAA's inevitable "that's not really a violation" response while everyone is still chuckling.

Which begs the question ... do these compliance officers, who are paid to understand the rules, really misunderstand the NCAA rulebook that badly, or are they just trolling to point out the NCAA's absurdity, knowing they lose nothing by doing it?

Either way, it's provided some good laughs and some NCAA headaches, and that's not all that bad.