School looking at potential violation

Under Armour, affiliated with UM, hosted recruit

Maryland Men's Basketball

March 02, 2009|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,

RALEIGH, N.C. - Maryland said yesterday that it is reviewing whether any improper contact was made with high school basketball star Lance Stephenson, a prized recruit who visited the College Park campus in January.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that Stephenson, from Brooklyn, N.Y., visited Under Armour, the Baltimore sports apparel company headed by a prominent Maryland graduate, Kevin Plank, during an official visit that included a January game at Comcast Center. The newspaper cited industry sources saying Under Armour hoped to forge a relationship with Stephenson - assuming he makes it to the NBA - as it builds its basketball shoe business. It reported that former Terrapin Byron Mouton said he talked to Stephenson for 15 minutes at the game.

The NCAA restricts contacts between recruits and people considered boosters.

"The review related to Byron Mouton's recent, public comments in The Washington Post, regarding conversation with a recruit during his visit to campus, is in process," Maryland said in a statement posted on its athletics Web site.

"The contact was reported to the Atlantic Coast Conference, per standard procedure."

Maryland said the contact, if it occurred, "would most likely be a minor violation, per NCAA rules, not likely impacting the eligibility and/or recruitment of the recruit."

Stephenson is from the same high school as James Padgett, another Maryland recruit. Padgett signed with Maryland last year. Stephenson remains undecided.

Under Armour has many ties to Maryland. In September, Under Armour officials appeared at the university to jointly announce the company will be the official outfitter for Maryland athletics. The five-year, $17.5 million deal means all Terps programs - including the men's basketball team, which was affiliated with Nike - became outfitted by Under Armour starting in January.

"The coaches and staff of Maryland Athletics are diligent in regards to following NCAA rules and regulations," Maryland's statement said. "Our business relationship with Under Armour, as the department's exclusive apparel provider, is a relationship common throughout collegiate athletics."

The statement did not say when Maryland's review would be completed. The university legal counsel and faculty athletic representative normally participate in such reviews, the school said.

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