Did implicated players receive NCAA immunity?

By Adam Silverstein
August 22, 2011

When Yahoo! Sports released its extensive report on the illegal benefits scandal surrounding the Miami Hurricanes, seven players who were neither current nor former members of the team were also implicated. Among them were Florida Gators redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose and redshirt junior right tackle Matt Patchan.

On Thursday the University of Florida, after receiving approval from the NCAA, announced that both players were eligible for the 2011 season even though they were named in the report and may have received some form of improper benefits.

“We have been in communication with the NCAA and there are no eligibility issues with Andre Debose and Matt Patchan as it relates to recent reports. Andre, Matt nor the University of Florida will have any additional comments regarding this matter.”

According to CBSSports.com, the NCAA’s decision to approve the eligibility of Debose, Patchan and a number of other players named in the report may have been due to the organization using it’s “limited immunity” clause.

“Limited immunity” is a little-known procedure granted to NCAA investigators to get information from a player “when such an individual otherwise might be declared ineligible for intercollegiate competition,” according to the NCAA Manual.

The NCAA’s vice president of enforcement Roe Lach, without being overly specific, told CBSSports.com‘ Dennis Dodd that her organization did take a special step in order to move forward with its investigation.

“The enforcement staff has been given, by the membership, a pretty important investigative tool,” Lach said. She added that they are able to use said tool “when we think that’s really our only shot of getting that information.”

While no one at the NCAA will confirm that limited immunity has been used in this case, one source close to the investigation told CBSSports.com that “apparently they chose to give these guys limited immunity … which means they’re all eligible.”

It is unknown whether or not the NCAA specifically used this concept with Debose and Patchan or if the organization simply determined that neither was involved to an extent that was worth pursuing considering the extreme breadth and depth of its investigation.


  1. cline says:

    Do what?

    • GatorSnake says:

      From what it sounds like, They are eligible to play currently, but in the future the NCAA has the option to rule that they were ineligible. For example, If UF wins the SEC championship this year, it could be vacated because the two players played for us, a la USC and Reggie Bush

      • What you’re saying is what I believed to be the case from the get-go. However, if the NCAA approves the players as eligible, I highly doubt they’re going to go back and retroactively do that to Florida or any other team in a similar situation. More specifically, it appears as if the limited immunity will stick for the players they may have already given it to.

        • Ken (CA) says:

          Let the little fish go, get the big fish, sounds like to me. If the NCAA retroactively came back and did something like that they would lose what little credibility they have left at this point, after declaring them eligible, unless something massive comes out. They aren’t after the recruits, they are after the root of the problem, the people involved and the Universities that find it acceptable practice, it seems to me.

      • Tractorr says:

        There is no way they can say you are eligible and the retroactively rule them ineligible. If it comes out they were involved in a major infraction then they could be ruled ineligible but it would be from that point forward. The more worrying concern should be if they find there was some major infraction and they want to go back and vacate wins.

  2. John S says:

    Glad to hear it’s not more bad news. I wonder who Yahoo’s sources are, other than Shapiro…

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