As he did last year when the then-sophomore defensive tackle was suspended by the NCAA, Florida coach Will Muschamp on Wednesday defended Sharrif Floyd and any criticism as a result of an article outlining his "unprecedented" adoption.
In the article that ran Tuesday in the USA Today, Rachel George reports that Floyd was legally adopted by Kevin Lahn, the man responsible for providing Floyd with $2,500 in impermissible benefits that led to his 2011 suspension. It's a controversial situation because it's being viewed by some as a potential loophole to circumvent NCAA bylaws that prevent such benefits. Now that Lahn is an legal guardian for Floyd, the vice president of a commercial real estate company is free to provide for Floyd as any other parent provides for a child that also happens to be a student-athlete -- essentially, spoiling your own child isn't an NCAA violation.
Since adopting Floyd in December, Lahn has leased him a 2012 Ford Explorer XLT and an apartment, signed Floyd up for a credit card and provided for him to take a trip to Disney World and then to Miami for his 21st birthday, where he was joined by teammates Ronald Powell and Dominique Easley for steak and lobster dinners at the Mandarin Oriental luxury hotel and a trip aboard an 80-foot, $3 million yacht, according to the article.
But Muschamp said Wednesday he was never concerned about Floyd's eligility, and he delivered strong words in support of Floyd.
"I knew everything, absolutely not ever worried about any eligibility issues," Muschamp said. "Sharrif is a fine young man, everything is above board that the University of Florida has handled with Sharrif and Kevin Lahn.
"What is wrong with someone caring about someone else? What is so bad about that is my question. The young man has done nothing wrong."
The people who criticize the situation see the potential for exploitation by people such as agents, runners, AAU coaches and the like looking to capitalize on the future financial gain of elite athletes. It could quickly become a slippery-slope situation, some believe.
The counter to that is that each case must be judged individually. Floyd comes from a difficult family situation, one similar to former Ole Miss and current Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher, who was also adopted by a wealthy family. Why doesn't he deserve to have support like so many others have? Whose to say that Lahn and his wife Tiffany don't care about Floyd as their own? According to the article, Lahn said Floyd's great grandmother, who helped raise him, signed off on the adoption. Florida's compliance department knew about it and approved it. And it does not appear that the NCAA will investigate or that any sanctions are likely.
Muschamp certainly isn't worried.
"My statements speak for themselves and what I said a year ago, and I stand by it today," he said Wednesday.
George's article is a very interesting read and certainly worth your time. Give it a look if you haven't already. Let me know what you think in the comments.