Manti Te’o, a Honolulu native and a prized linebacker recruit in the Class of 2009, will make a very long trip to visit Notre Dame this weekend.
Notre Dame had to take action this week to ensure Te’o could make a return trip if he so chooses.
Some Notre Dame students hatched a plan to distribute about 8,000 leis outside Notre Dame Stadium at Saturday’s game against Syracuse in honor of Te’o’s visit, posting that plan on an Irish fan website and even campaigning for help.
The problem? A concerted, organized effort such as that could be construed as an NCAA violation in which Notre Dame was publicizing a recruit’s visit to campus and encouraging that recruit to attend the school.
Once the Notre Dame compliance office received a missive about the plan, it bid the idea aloha.
“I received a communication from somebody wanting to do something -- and you can gather what that is -- in the way of showing support and encouragement for a prospect that may be visiting,” Notre Dame compliance director Mike Karwoski said Thursday.
“I responded back with an e-mail to the inquiry I received saying, we don’t think this is permissible, and this is why we don’t think it’s permissible.”
Signs, videos and messages over a public address system or printed T-shirts are among other no-nos as they relate to advertising a recruit’s visit to campus. There is only so much Notre Dame can control, however, and Karwoski indicated a mass banishment of anyone wearing a Hawaiian shirt is unlikely to occur.
“I don’t know if anyone here is looking to take that sort of approach to things,” he said.
That said, it would be a risk. And at stake is the ability to recruit Te’o, the nation’s No. 9 overall prospect, according to Rivals.com.
“I would hate for a prospect and for our coaches to lose the opportunity to recruit a kid, or have a kid come here, by some external person’s actions,” Karwoski said. “That would be the absolute worst. And I would hope that our alumni and fans and supporters would understand that -- that if there’s any sort of gray area, you just don’t do it. You’re putting the kid in jeopardy. You’re putting the institution in jeopardy. Whether you agree with the rule or don’t agree with the rule is completely irrelevant.”