Tupou sat out game due to rule infraction

Tupou (eDuck file)

The Oregon Ducks further explained today that offensive tackle Fenuki Tupou had been suspended from the team for receiving improper benefits from the representative of a professional sport management firm.

According to a media release issued by the University of Oregon this evening, Tupou self-reported the incident to the Athletic Department's Executive Assistant Athletics Director for Compliance Bill Clever last Wednesday and turned the monetary benefit over to the department's compliance office. Clever immediately notified the Pacific-10 Conference and the NCAA, who in turn notified the NFL Players Association, the labor union which oversees professional sports agents and financial advisors. The NFLPA does not permit its members to induce current student-athletes with cash or gift benefits.

The NCAA ordered that Tupou sit out one game, which was the Washington game on Saturday.

According to the media release, Tupou had lunch with Tim Norling, representing LMM Management of Phoenix, at a local restaurant in Eugene. Norling paid the bill of $10 and when shaking hands with Topou, gave the player five $20 bills. Tupou maintains he attempted to return the money several times but Norling refused.

According to NCAA bylaws, it is permissible for student-athletes to meet with agents. However it is impermissible to accept any benefits or enter into any formal agreement until a student-athlete's eligibility has expired.

The day after Tupou reported the incident he addressed the team and apologized for the mistake he made. On Friday, the NCAA imposed a one-game suspension and ordered Tupou to donate the amount of the meal ($10) to charity.

"I'm sorry that I allowed myself to be put in this situation," Tupou said in the released statement. "I apologized to my teammates and coaches. It will not happen again."

Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti said on Sunday afternoon that while Tupou made a mistake in judgment, he was proud of his player for having the courage to admit what happened and come forward on his own volition.

"The neat thing for me is that he (Tupou) was honest about it, he feels bad about it," said Bellotti. "He apologized to the team, explaining what happened so hopefully it won't happen with any other players. There are unscrupulous people that try to get things done and don't pay attention the rules. Obviously he's a victim and we're a victim of that."

The NFLPA lists Ethan Lock, Eric Metz and Vance Malinovic as the top certified associates of the LMM Sports Management firm.

A Google search reveals a Tim Norling being part of the staff of Champions Group of Orlando, LLC The web site indicates Norling has been associated with college football for ten years either as a player, assistant strength coach or an assistant football coach at all the collegiate levels. Most recently, serving as an Assistant Football Coach at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and prior to that the University of New Haven (CT), Ferrum College (VA), and the State University of New York at Canton Junior College.

As a strength coach, the web site says Norling worked at the University of Central Florida in 1998 and the University of Miami during the 1998 season.plus interning with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the 1998 Training Camp.

According the web site Norling played at Glenville State College (WV) under Rich Rodriguez, now the Head Football Coach at Michigan (formerly West Virginia) and at Valdosta State University (GA) under Hal Mumme, now the Head Football Coach at New Mexico State University.

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