EUGENE – University of Oregon senior offensive tackle Fenuki Tupou served a one game suspension in the Ducks’ 44-10 win over Washington Saturday night for receiving improper benefits from the representative of a professional sport management firm.
Tupou self-reported his actions to the athletics department’s Executive Assistant Athletics Director for Compliance Bill Clever Wednesday of last week, 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.
Tupou reportedly met with Tim Norling of the Phoenix, Ariz., firm of LMM Sports Management at a local Eugene restaurant in July. Norling paid for the $10 meal and at the conclusion of the meeting handed Tupou five $20 bills in their parting handshake.
The NFLPA lists Ethan Lock, Eric Metz and Vance Malinovic as the top certified associates of the LMM Sports Management firm.
Tupou alleges that he tried to return the cash benefit to Norling several times but was 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 he self-reported the meeting, Tupou requested permission to address his teammates and admit his infraction. Late Friday afternoon, the NCAA handed down a one-game suspension and also ordered Tupou to donate the improper inducement and the cost of the $10 meal to charity.
“I’m sorry that I allowed myself to be put in this situation,” Tupou said. “I apologized to my teammates and coaches. It will not happen again.”
The 6-6 330-pound Sacramento standout opened 12 of 13 games a year ago, including the last eight games in 2007, and was named the most outstanding lineman in Oregon’s 56-21 Sun Bowl win over South Florida last season.