A football program as powerful in talent and rich in resources and tradition as LSU can only stop itself, and that is what the Tigers have done.
Sports Illustrated reported that LSU will cut eight football scholarships over two years for rules violations, most notably Cleveland Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. handing out $100 bills to Tigers players on the field after LSU won the national championship in January.
But it’s not like Beckham, a former LSU player, was the Tigers biggest problem. LSU is being proactive to avoid harsher NCAA penalties after the governing body uncovered improper booster payments to football players and parents, reports said. ESPN received a NCAA document from LSU that states its men’s basketball coach, Will Wade, arranged or offered payments to 11 recruits or people around them.
LSU has deeper issues than Beckham, but he is the one banned from the facility for two years after spreading $2,000 out over four players. It’s just that Beckham believes he’s untouchable, even by the coronavirus.
“I just don’t think COVID can get to me,” Beckham told reporters this week. “It doesn’t want any parts of me. I think it is a mutual respect.”
LSU football also will reduce recruiting visits and communication after a wider three-year athletics investigation. Tigers booster John Paul Fumes was much more egregious than Beckham, paying current and former student-athletes’ families, providing a private plane to staff and offering jobs to football players. One offensive lineman’s father received $180,000 over five years for “a no-show job,” ESPN reported.
This is the same Fumes who was sentenced to 33 months in prison for embezzling more than $500,000 from a hospital foundation and then giving the money to former players’ parents.
Beckham doesn’t seem so outlandish in light of that.