Sometime earlier this week, Clemson receiver Tee Higgins appeared in a picture in front of a nice car on a South Carolina dealership’s Facebook page. That picture is now deleted for reasons that will become clear in a second, but FITSNews grabbed a screenshot:
Higgins — a five-star recruit in the class of 2017, when some evaluators pegged him as the No. 1 receiver in the country — is merely smiling in front of a McLaren 570S Spider (sticker price: somewhere in the $200,000 region).
The photo started to make the rounds by Friday and Saturday, driven by fans of other college football teams winking and nodding in the direction of NCAA violations.
Any time a college football player is photographed in proximity to something nice, this happens:
(That’s not exactly what happened in the YouTube case, but anyway.)
I like Tee Higgins but this is so sketchy. But NCAA will let it slide— Rocky Top (@865RockyTop) June 9, 2018
Tee Higgins and his mom lived in the projects while he was in Oak Ridge... https://t.co/UXroO7ofD7— Jonus Goldston (@JonusGoldston) June 9, 2018
I want a car like that without the fees, or the monthly payments u know @teehiggins5 can’t make lol— We’re All Wackos AighT (@cable18) June 9, 2018
Clemson receiver Tee Higgins buys a McLaren pic.twitter.com/Y1wJ1Qtjuo— JT Clifton (@JT_SAR_Fball) June 9, 2018
(Higgins apparently didn’t buy the car. More on that shortly.)
There are even notes like these, which are maybe well-intentioned but still likely inaccurate:
I can’t blame Tee Higgins for getting a car. In 20 years we’ll think it’s crazy players weren’t getting paid or at least allowed to use their name for endorsements.— TechVol1 (@TechVol1) June 9, 2018
Don’t be mad Tee Higgins (allegedly) bought a nice car (allegedly) by receiving payments of some kind...be mad our (alleged) university isn’t willing to pay big.— WOKEN Wacko Vol Fan (@Travis_Cabage) June 9, 2018
Higgins is from Tennessee, in case you’re wondering why a lot of these notes come from Tennessee fans. I can’t imagine why Higgins might not have wanted to play there.
Here’s what some sleuths on Facebook said:
Spoiler: It appears Higgins didn’t even get the car in the picture.
FITSNews, a website that covers various subjects South Carolina, quotes what it says are subsequent posts from the dealership, though they don’t currently show on Facebook:
“Mr. Higgins didn’t purchase the car in the picture,” a subsequent post from the dealership clarified. “However he did love the McLaren and went for a ride in it. It gave him a lot of inspiration to be even better so he can get one with his signing bonus when he gets drafted to the NFL.”
“We took the picture down at the request of Mr. Higgins,” another subsequent post from the dealership added. “We did not want to cause any problems for him even though there has been no wrong doing from him or us. We just wanted to post a picture with him in front of a nice car. We are working on getting him in one of our cars currently. We never said he bought the car he was standing in front of. Our other pictures we have of customers states the car they bought. This picture never stated what car he bought if any. People are always quick to judge and come to a false conclusion. It is a shame that a lot of people just want ridicule instead of saying something nice.”
All of that because he took a picture in front of a sports car.
Even in a dream NCAA world where players were allowed to get money for their effort and skill, they probably wouldn’t be scooping up luxury sports cars all the time. People on the internet getting excited every time another team’s player poses for a picture with any car better than a 2004 Honda Civic is an institution that will survive forever.