In an attempt to uncover NCAA violations involving Tyrann Mathieu, Sports Illustrated finds itself in a bribery scandal

Thayer Evans and Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated wrote a wide ranging piece on former LSU star Tyrann Mathieu where the pair wades through Mathieu’s upbringing and the issues that got him kicked off the LSU football team.

But the newsworthy portion of the piece is the possible NCAA violation that Mathieu and other LSU players may have committed in conjunction with a group he and friends created called Era Nation. According to SI, Era Nation is “made up of a dozen self-described athletes, rappers and songwriters.” And according to SI’s report, the group used online videos to promote events at a Baton Rouge club called The Palace, where Mathieu and other LSU players were let in free. Mathieu’s photo was also used on a flyer for a Jan. 14, 2012, party at Club H2O in New Orleans. All of which are possible NCAA violations.

The flyers and videos may be a violation of NCAA rule 12.5.2.1, which says that anyone who “accepts any remuneration or permits the use of his or her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind” is ineligible. A veteran compliance officer with no direct knowledge of Mathieu’s case says that any penalties would depend on how commercial the videos were, whether Mathieu knew what they were being used for and if he received any illicit benefits, which would violate a separate NCAA rule. “If this guy is in the video in an attempt to draw people to the place,” says the officer, “that’s not permissible.” LSU says the school, including coach Les Miles, is unaware of players using their images to promote events or receiving extra benefits.

Of course, the report didn’t go over too well with some. Mathieu’s parents have already taken SI to task, but the Mathieu family being upset may be the least of SI’s problem.

WBRZ News in Baton Rouge spoke with The Palace’s club promoter, Xavier Williams and Williams claims that SI tried to bribe him to give false details to bolster their piece. The Palace’s owner Torrey Lewis also claims that the players didn’t give their consent to be featured in the promotional videos and that everyone got in free up until a certain time.

As more info becomes available, we’ll bring it to you.

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