Last week, Mark Gottfried used a helicopter to visit some highly-regarded prospects at their respective high schools, including point guard Dennis Smith Jr. The stunt earned a lot of attention, but most importantly got the attention of Smith, who committed to NC State a day later. There was much rejoicing and then we all moved on.
But hold on just a second there, bub, here comes the NCAA sprinting down a hallway carrying its 800-pound rule book. It turns out the Wolfpack may have committed a violation of NCAA rules because media were on hand for the coaches' visit with Smith. Smith's high school is in Fayetteville, so naturally the Fayetteville Observer sent a reporter and photographers to cover the unusual meeting.
Here's the rule in question, via the Observer:
According to NCAA rule 13.10.1, labeled Presence of Media During Recruiting Contact, "A member institution shall not permit a media entity to be present during any recruiting contact made by an institution's coaching staff member."
NC State is denying any wrongdoing here, and in a statement said that the school was not aware that media would be in attendance during Gottfried's visit. But media were there, and either Gottfried didn't recognize that fact, or, more likely, it didn't occur to him that was a potential problem.
In any case, this is not going to be a big deal--if NC State had requested the presence of media members, then we might have a problem. But the Observer heard about the visit from Smith's high school, not NC State. Mark Gottfried posted a picture from the helicopter on Twitter--State never tried to hide the fact this helicopter trip was happening--but obviously made no mention of where he was going.
Dennis Smith's eligibility will not be affected, and NC State's basketball program will not be napalmed from the face of the earth. If anything at all comes of it, it'll be because the NCAA once is again sticking to the letter of the law while entirely ignoring the spirit of it. A violation must be a violation even if inadvertent, because otherwise chaos and destruction would reign, and we certainly wouldn't want anything to threaten the integrity of an amateur sport in which COACHES ARE ALLOWED TO RIDE DAGGONE HELICOPTERS TO VISIT RECRUITS AT THEIR HIGH SCHOOLS.