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Sunday
Feb062005

Alabama Booster Trial and Impact

As noted earlier, a federal jury has found a prominent Alabama football booster (Logan Young) guilty on several charges related to his monetary involvement in luring prospect Albert Means to the Crimson Tide program.

Read this story for the mechanics of what went on.

I accidentally bumped into two different, but similar reactions to this trial.  Both understood the gravity of the charges, but did not agree with the overall prosecution efforts, and use of the RICO statutes.

The first reaction was from the Mobile Register's Paul Finebaum.

Finebaum admits a close association to Young, but raises the fairness issue-

So Lynn Lang, the former Trezevant High School coach, apparently held an auction -- with as many as half a dozen schools participating -- and Young, the defrocked Alabama booster, is facing time in a federal penitentiary because his favorite school won the services for Albert Means.
Young has been accused this week by the government of many things, ranging from being a heavy drinker to a gambler to a windbag, even of throwing around cash to perhaps influence where a 17-year-old high school player decided to attend college.
Where in all of this has this met a standard of criminal activity? Oh, don't read me the law book. How is this man a menace to society because he was passionate about his favorite football team? Did he ever raise a hand and threaten someone? Did he threaten to burn down Means' home if he chose another school?
Nope. He may have violated NCAA by-laws (of course, giving a player a $10 T-shirt qualifies for that), but how is society better off if he is sent to prison?
Then, I ran across this from one of my favorite sites, SportsLawBlog

The goods-
To fall under RICO, an individual or group must commit two or more of a certain type of crime (some state, some federal), including embezzlement, extortion and bribery. Without RICO, Young would most likely have been charged with violating a state law against bribing government officials. However, the government wanted to sentence Young under the harsher federal penalties, and thus, it brought the RICO charges...This seems like a lot of trouble for a college booster that paid off a recruit. Someone seems to want to make a statement about the corruption in college athletics (especially basketball and football) and so they have chosen to make an example out of Young. If convicted, he could face 15 years in prison and a $900,000 fine.

I don't profess to be a law expert, but it really looks like Logan Young was tried to be made an example of. I can't stand rampant boosterism, but by reading those two links I get the vibe it's better to simply sentence him on the basic bribery charges. The spirit of the law is to protect the young man, Albert Means from the exploitation opportunity his coach created along with (according to trial allegations) Logan Young and coaches at several other prominent colleges.

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