Local expert says timing of Fournette NCAA violation report is suspect

METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - Sports law experts don't think Leonard Fournette will face any penalties following a USA Today article that questioned whether the LSU standout's family violated NCAA rules.

"At this point I don't think that Leonard Fournette is in any type of trouble," said Doug Sunseri, a former sports agent and current attorney.

The article, written by Josh Peter, alleges Fournette's mother paired with a businessman to create a website to sell Fournette's "BUGA Nation" gear. But according to the article, the sales on the website were suspended before any hats or shirts were ever shipped because Fournette's mother did not want to get the Heisman hopeful in trouble.

"I would say that was very wise of them. If you have a high-profile player, stay out of the gray area, and that's what they did," Sunseri said.

Sunseri said there is no guidance from the NCAA about doing the groundwork to make money on a player in their future career.

"The question is: What is exploitation? Is it getting prepared, or is it actually making money? So there is no indication in the report that there were actually any sales. They're just preparing for it when it actually occurs," Sunseri said.

The article alleges Fournette's mother and her family manager may have violated NCAA rules when they were given a discount to create merchandise, graphics and a website.

"That could be considered remuneration or some type of profit because basically you're getting a value of goods and services for less than the market value," Sunseri said. But he added the allegations of discounts are too remote based on limited facts in the article.

Sunseri thinks Fournette's family may actually have the legal right to sell BUGA Nation gear, and the brand could be considered a separate entity from Fournette's collegiate career.

"That's not really affiliated with him playing football, that's just a saying that says Being United Generates Attitude, so that's another grey area," Sunseri said. "I think a very good argument could be made that BUGA Nation is something that is separate and apart from his playing career at LSU and he should be able to profit on it."

Sunseri thinks the article, published just days before Fournette's primetime appearance during the LSU-Alabama match-up, is suspect.

"I think the timing is interesting, but I really think that based on what the Fournette family did, that it could be a financial controversy and pulling back was wise on their part and shows good faith to try to comply with the NCAA rules, which is often a moving target," Sunseri said.

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