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Toon interview leads to inadvertent NCAA violation

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Jeff Potrykus
June 13, 2011
— Wisconsin inadvertently committed an NCAA violation related to the recruitment of former North Carolina State quarterback Russell Wilson.

However, the violation appears to be minor and should not affect Wilson’s eligibility or prevent him from transferring to UW if he chooses.


Wilson visited UW on Tuesday and Wednesday and met with the coaches and several players.


According to NCAA rules, the only public comment a “member institution” can make regarding an unsigned recruit is to confirm the recruitment. UW officials have declined all comment on Wilson’s recruitment.


However, wide receiver Nick Toon on Friday was approached by a TV reporter during the WIAA state team tennis tournament at Nielsen Tennis Stadium. Although the interview request was not cleared by UW’s athletic communications department, which is standard policy, Toon politely said he would answer a few questions.


Asked about Wilson’s visit to UW, Toon said:


“Whenever you can bring someone in of his caliber it is going to add some competition at the quarterback spot. And competition brings out the best in everybody and that’s great. Hopefully he comes here.


“I met him last week. He seems to be a great guy. I liked him a lot. Hopefully we’ll see him in a Wisconsin uniform next fall.”


Bylaw 13.10.2 of the NCAA Division I manual reads:


“Before the signing of a prospective student-athlete to a National Letter of Intent or an institution’s written offer of admission and/or financial aid, a member institution may comment publicly only to the extent of confirming its recruitment of the prospective student-athlete. The institution may not comment generally about the prospective student-athlete’s ability or the contribution that the prospective student-athlete might make to the institution’s team; further, the institution is precluded from commenting in any manner as to the likelihood of the prospective student-athlete’s signing with that institution. Violations of this bylaw do not affect a prospective student-athlete’s eligibility.”

When informed Saturday of the violation, UW officials cited NCAA rules and again declined to comment on Wilson’s recruitment.


Wilson, who passed for 8,545 yards and 76 touchdowns in three seasons as a starter with the Wolfpack, reportedly visited Auburn last month. However, according to a source, UW is the leader for his services.


Wilson redshirted as a freshman in 2007 and graduated in four years from North Carolina State. He was released from his scholarship earlier this spring and because he graduated in four years can transfer to any school and play immediately.


However, Wilson is a second baseman for the Asheville Tourists, the Colorado Rockies’ Class A affiliate.


The Badgers are scheduled to open preseason camp


Aug. 4. The Tourists’ regular-season finale is on Sept. 5.


Wilson thus would have to reach an agreement with the Rockies to leave Asheville early to participate in UW’s camp and prepare for the Sept. 1 opener. That likely would include having to return part of his signing bonus, reportedly $250,000.


When asked whether Wilson hinted during his visit that he would choose UW Toon said:


“I couldn’t say one way or another. But obviously ... everybody here wants him here. So it would be great if he comes. I’m looking forward to see what happens.”



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