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Were Lane Kiffin’s Lamar Jackson tweets an NCAA violation?

By the letter of the law it kinda looks like it. And the NCAA is the embodiment of a letter of the law organization.

NCAA Football: Florida Atlantic at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson sent two tweets on Wednesday, ya know, just a normal day on the app. One of which expressed the South Florida native’s love for his mother and another in which the Heisman Trophy winner stunted a little about his performance against FSU.

In a vacuum, no problem there. But then, FAU coach Lane Kiffin quote tweeted them in two posts that are now deleted.

Kiffin is no stranger to Twitter, and gets these tweets off about an array of things on his feed. After practice Wednesday he played a little coy with the whole deal.

But there is the threat of legitimate NCAA violation to deal with.

The applicable portion from bylaw 13.1.1.3 in the NCAA’s Division I manual regarding potential transfers (emphasis ours):

An athletics staff member or other representative of the institution’s athletics interests shall not make contact with the student-athlete of another NCAA or NAIA four-year collegiate institution, directly or indirectly, without first obtaining the written permission of the first institution’s athletics director (or an athletics administrator designated by the athletics director) to do so, regardless of who makes the initial contact.

The NCAA’s website also has a form about permissions to contact student-athletes

Signing a National Letter of Intent ends the recruiting process because participating schools are prohibited from recruiting student-athletes who have already signed letters with other participating schools.

I highly doubt Kiffin received written permission to tweet at Jackson, but because the NCAA errs on the side of over prosecuting even the minor things, this might become something that rises to the level of even a minor violation for a couple reasons.

If you think another school isn’t petty enough to report this as a violation you are very mistaken.

While mutually assured destruction typically holds folks back from reporting minor violations against rival schools, it does happen. In 2014, Yahoo Sports reported that someone with ties to the Miami program flagged former Florida assistant Joker Phillips for having committed a violation. Phillips ended up resigning, and the NCAA Committee On Infractions levied no further penalties on the Gators after review.

Reporting Kiffin could be a small way that a rival school could get back at FAU for dominating on the recruiting trail in Conference USA adjusted terms. Kiffin’s also narrowly skirted NCAA violations before. While his staff was found to have committed 12 while he was at Tennessee, Kiffin was only tagged with a failure to monitor his charges, and not a specific violation.

If you think FAU isn’t going to or shouldn’t self-report this as a minor violation, you don’t know the granular nature of what schools self-report for.

The NCAA relies on people to report violations to them. It doesn’t have a police force that visits campus. That means that the vast majority of violations are reported by the member schools themselves. It’s purely in the interest of covering their own rear ends. It’s better to come clean and fess up to every little thing than have the NCAA find out later.

Here are some things Alabama self-reported for this summer.

- A player participated in an impermissible promotional activity

- A mid-year enrollee tweeting about hosting a specific recruit.

- There were two instances of communication with recruits prior to the allowed window.

- There was impermissible in-person contact with a recruit

- The allowance of an impermissible recruiter to be present during an off-campus meeting.

There was another infamous case in which a West Coast Conference school self-reported a golfer washing her car with a hose on campus as an impermissible benefit back in 2013. The woman was required to pay $20, which the NCAA determined was the cost of the water and hose used.

We’ve reached out to FAU for comment on whether the school will self-report Kiffin’s tweets.

I don’t think anyone really believes this is Kiffin actually actively trying to pry Jackson away from Louisville, he’s pretty much just tweeting like the rest of us do. But this is college football, and when it comes to the NCAA it’s better to be safe than sorry.