Marve Implicated in Yahoo's Miami Takedown

UPDATE: Mere hours after this post went up, the Purdue University athletic department released a statement that there were no eligibility issues with regard to Robert Marve. Danny Hope echoed this. We doubt that's the end of this and further doubt it's as simple as the athletic department wants to make it.

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Yahoo Sports has released the results of their seemingly exhaustive investigation into "da U" and among the many players implicated in the improper benefits scandal is our own Robert Marve, who played for the Canes for one season. (Also, memo to Ohio State fans -- you can stop bitching that the media is only interested in demonizing your program.)

If you want to read the details directly from Yahoo, click here. As for our feelings on the subject, well, here goes.

In many cases of illegal-benefit situations, I have to come down on the coaches and schools themselves harder than the kids. Sure, sometimes they know they're getting something that they shouldn't, but in a lot of cases, you have athletes who may not fully understand what constitutes an illegal benefit or perk. And sure, I'm of the opinion that ignorance is not usually an excuse. However, that said, I also think when you're 18-21 and a guy offers to give you a ride to a nightclub or buy you a drink, it's hard to stop and think, "wait, is this illegal?" Accepting a ride in a car? On its face, it sounds innocuous.

I even feel this way with regard to the OSU scandal. Players exchanging memorabilia for tattoos is definitely not allowed, but is it a stretch to think players could have figured, "Hey, I'm not accepting money or a car or whatever"? No, it's not a stretch, and that's why I think it's on the coaches and guys like Saint Tressel. The minute he found out, if he had brought it to light and "punished" the players in some way, it would go away, much like UND's Floyd and his drunk driving issues. Coach Kelly meted out a light punishment and now it goes away. Sure, I know they're not the same thing, but you surely can see my point. No matter how light or superficial the punishment, as long as coaches and people in positions of authority are not covering things up or lying for players, most people -- including jerks like me and the NCAA -- will ultimately let it go.

Getting back to Marve, here's what I think on the benefits the Yahoo article alleges he received:

Drinks and VIP access during strip club visits to Solid Gold, The Cheetah and Tootsie’s Cabaret. Shapiro said one such visit occurred in late August 2008. Shapiro said he took Marve and wideout Kayne Farquharson to Solid Gold after Marve told him he had been having problems with his girlfriend.

So Marve is having lady troubles and a couple guys take him out to a strip club. If I had a nickel for every time I did this with Boilerdowd, I'd have... almost a nickel. Is this against the rules and improper? It sure is. But can a player be expected to know who they can and cannot go to a club with? That's up for debate. Hard-liners don't care. People like me think there is indeed some gray area and that it's on the school and the coaches to make sure these guys understand the rules. If Jay Bilas and his ilk think it's too hard for coaches to keep track of such things, well, maybe those coaches should get a job working in a cubicle. Life's a bitch.

Food, drinks and entertainment at Shapiro’s $6 million Miami Beach mansion on multiple occasions.

Again, this essentially equates to attending a party. If you're invited to a party in college, you go. If you're a high-profile athlete, you get invited to cool parties. Unfortunately, again, it's on the school to keep guys like this dirty booster away from your players and whose party-throwing constitutes a violation. And once again, I know it might be easy to say you can't keep track of the players, but I'll bet you anything that Matt Painter has spoken to his players on more than one occasion and advised them of who to stay away from, perhaps with specific examples. Which brings me to the question some people are indeed asking -- where the hell was Larry Coker during all of this? Oh, right. Blissfully "unaware." Or playing ball, just like guys like Tressel.

At least one cash gift.

I stop making excuses here. If you're accepting cash, you're being dirty. I know the arguments about players being "hungry," but anyone who has been close to the "training table" where players eat knows that they, quite simply, do not go hungry. And if a player ever went to a coach and said, "Hey, coach, I'm hungry and I'm not getting enough to eat," a couple of things would happen. 1) The training table would be opened up and they'd be fed, and 2) heads would roll because the coach would let the school and/or dining staff know that their players weren't having their needs met. So let's drop this nonsense that players only accept money because they're "hungry." It naive and, frankly, ignorant of the facts.

Accepting cash is not okay, in any way, shape or form, in my opinion. And this is one of those things where I do not think it's ambiguous and that a player might not understand that it's not okay. It's not like accepting a ride somewhere or having a beer bought for you. This is a clear violation.

At least two dinners at Prime 112 steakhouse.

Again, not okay, and a violation, but you have to remember that these guys are used to having meals provided to them. Still, kind of hard to defend.

Transportation by Shapiro’s bodyguards and Miami staffer Sean Allen.

We're back to ambiguity here, in my opinion. Catching a ride with someone else is a time-honored college tradition. Many college students don't have cars and saying you'll take a ride with someone definitely seems harmless enough. It's against the rules, sure, but this isn't one I can come down on players too hard about.

Drinks and VIP access at nightclubs on multiple occasions.

Like the parties and dinners, I can see how a player might not look at this as receiving a benefit so much as just going to a party and consuming the things in front of them. That said, the mere hypothetical posit I keep putting forward assumes childlike innoncence on the part of the players and, let's face it, if you go to the University of Miami, you know nefarious things are happening there. It's part of the cool factor of being a Hurricane and it's part of the reason you went there. You like being one of the boys and getting special treatment... beyond the special treatment that all athletes get.

Summation

I don't think Robert Marve is a bad guy. And hey, a convicted felon agrees and says the Miami program and Randy Shannon never gave him a fair shake, so he's got that going for him, which is nice.

The problem here, of course, is that Marve's eligibilty is now potentially going to be called into question and if he's deemed ineligible or "guilty" in any of this, games he played for Purdue could then be tainted. And, really, Purdue just picked up a win versus Ohio State last year due to their vacating and so they're just one win from 2010 bowl eligibility -- losing the Ball State and Western Illinois victories could be crushing.

I kid, but the sad truth is that this could spell the end for Robert Marve for at least 2011. He has already said that he's planning to petition the NCAA for another year of eligibility, so it's possible now that the next time we could see Robert Marve on the field would be 2012. And really, after missing what would amount to nearly three full years of football, what would he have in the tank at that point?

Another thing that bothers me is that the Yahoo story suggests there was contact with the booster, Nevin Shapiro, "until the booster's incarceration in 2010," which means they were still in contact once Marve was at Purdue. I don't know if that is true -- or if any of this is -- but regardless of how it pans out, this is just one more sad chapter in the growing list of unfortunate stories that have plagued Robert Marve throughout his college career and his time with Purdue.

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