The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

December 20, 2012

NCAA nearly suspended OU assistant over tweets

NORMAN, Okla. — Twitter messages sent to high school players in February violated NCAA rules and nearly resulted in a one-game suspension for Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Among the documents released to the AP this week under Oklahoma's Open Records Act were letters between university compliance staff and members of the NCAA's rules enforcement staff concerning the fallout from Norvell's use of Twitter.

The NCAA initially wanted to suspend Norvell for one game but the university successfully appealed. Oklahoma learned of the NCAA's decision not to suspend Norvell on Dec. 4, about a month before the Cotton Bowl game between the 12th-ranked Sooners and No. 10 Texas A&M.

Oklahoma has had a series of major NCAA violations in recent years and is still on probation for the latest case involving ex-men's basketball assistant coach Oronde Taliaferro. Previous cases involved the football team and ex-basketball coach Kelvin Sampson.

In this case, Norvell sent nine Twitter messages on Feb. 21 to six prospects who were high school juniors, according to a university letter sent May 14 to Chris Strobel, the NCAA's director of secondary enforcement.

"Norvell had intended the tweets to be direct messages; however, upon sending the messages, he instantly realized he had selected the incorrect messaging option and inadvertently posted the messages as public tweets," according to the letter from Jason Leonard, Oklahoma's executive director for athletics compliance, and Connie Dillon, the university's faculty athletics representative.

Six of the tweets contained what OU deemed to be "written offers of financial aid to juniors, which was prior to the permissible date in which an institution can provide written offers of aid to prospects."

Norvell immediately reported the violation and "further indicated that he understood 'written offer' to be offers made through traditional general correspondence" pursuant to NCAA rules, the OU letter said. "Norvell did not realize that something as impersonal as a direct message could or would be considered a written offer of financial aid pursuant to NCAA rule."

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