Low Tide: Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Could Have Last Laugh

The news of Alabama safety HaHa Clinton-Dix suspension comes just after the Luther Davis allegations of channeling money to Tide Football players. The armor is starting to get a few rust spots in Tuscaloosa. The stress being put on the program is something that no team outside LSU and Texas A&M has been able to do in recent years.

The Tuscaloosa News reported Alabama assistant strength and conditioning coach Corey Harris had given Clinton-Dix a short-term loan for less than $500. Harris had a pre-existing relationship with Clinton-Dix as an assistant coach at Stanhope High School where he blossomed into one of the top-rated players in the country. Alabama placed Harris on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

Appearing on the Paul Finebaum syndicated radio show, John Infante, a former compliance official at Loyola Marymount and Colorado State, compared the situation to recent infractions cases the NCAA has ruled on. There are two separate cases, one involving Clinton-Dix and the other involving Harris. Clinton-Dix dispensation will almost certainly bring with it a much lighter penalty than Harris. In all probability, Harris will suffer the NCAA’s version of purgatory referred to as show-cause, which will limit, if not eliminate, his ability to coach collegiately for the next 3-5 years.

More on the mind of Alabama fans would be the immediate status of Clinton-Dix and what implications this brings for his remaining games. It isn’t as serious as what most people believe as John Infante indicated today on the Finebaum show. Clinton-Dix was immediately suspended as a preemptive prudent move by Alabama and will likely be suspended from several games. Good news for the Tide is they face inferior opponents the next couple of weeks and Clinton-Dix could very well be back in time to play against LSU in early November. However, there is potentially an even bigger story here.

The ironic point is that any student on the campus of Alabama, with the exception of a student athlete, could have obtained a loan from Harris and no one would or could say a word. Clinton-Dix had a pre-Alabama relationship with the young man and certainly erred by giving him the loan, which they both knew was against NCAA rules. How many coaches could easily get caught up in this situation at any school? You get really close with the players and even more so here because they came to Alabama together. We will probably never know the reason Clinton-Dix needed the loan but Harris acted from his heart rather than his head and it will cost him much more than it will Clinton-Dix.

Clinton-Dix didn’t get a Ferrari or a new Hummer. He borrowed $500 from a family friend that he had known since High School that just happened to be his assistant strength coach. How many times in High School do you think Harris bought burgers or drinks for players that needed them? You would be hard pressed to find coaches that don’t. The loan was evidently paid back without incident according to bank records. How many of you have done something similar and borrowed money when you were a broke college student? I am not condoning Coach Harris actions and certainly Clinton-Dix and Harris both knew it was illegal. Looking at it from a larger viewpoint, however, if you think this is an isolated incident at Alabama, you should probably think again. There aren’t a lot of people who will tell you that on the record.

This adds fuel to a fire that Jay BilasDesmond Howard and others have spoken out on previously and that is some sort of small stipend for Football and Basketball players who by rule are prohibited from working during the year as if they would have time anyway. Harris let his heart and compassion get in the way of what he knew the rules to be. Alabama can’t condone the actions and acted appropriately and those actions will likely lessen the penalty. It is time the NCAA act appropriately and address situations like this and do what is right by the student athlete and not just their bank accounts.

Terry Waldrop was a long-time college basketball coach and AD. He also is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @terrywaldrop, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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