Why let facts get in the way of a good story? That’s evidently what every crackerjack reporter covering Whitneygate must be thinking. Or maybe I’m giving them too much credit. They may not be thinking at all. In various stories we’ve read, the outstanding room balances could be deemed an “extra benefit” by the NCAA. What exactly is an extra benefit? Well, here’s the definition, which frankly, was very easy to find (ever heard of Google?):
An extra benefit is any special arrangement by an institutional employee or a representative of the institution’s athletics interests to provide a student-athlete or the student-athlete’s relative or friend a benefit not expressly authorized by NCAA legislation. Receipt of a benefit by student-athletes or their relatives or friends is not a violation of NCAA legislation if it is demonstrated that the same benefit is generally available to the institution’s students or their relatives or friends or to a particular segment of the student body (e.g., foreign students, minority students) determined on a basis unrelated to athletics ability (NCAA Bylaw 16.02.3)
A student-athlete may not receive a special discount, payment arrangement or credit on a purchase (e.g., airline tickets, clothing) or a service (e.g., laundry, dry cleaning) from an institutional employee or a representative of its athletics interests.
So, it turns out that the institution or an individual connected to the athletic interests of an institution must provide the benefit in order for it to be considered an “extra benefit.” That’s interesting, as we at TRC don’t recall one instance where a reporter covering Whitneygate made the effort to actually match the facts to the definition. Maybe the Whitney is owned or operated by a bunch of Gamecock Club members, or maybe not. No one has made that connection. By now, you would think that such a connection would have been uncovered and plastered all over the front page. The fact that it has not is a pretty good indication that there is no connection, or that the reporters covering Whitneygate have no clue.