Illini basketball

Jamall Walker – Driving Mr. Jackson

Episode 2 of Infractions From The Groce Era.

Here’s another story of the NCAA and its silly rules.

On August 30th 2012,  Jamall Walker drove Demetrius Jackson & Quron Marks 208 miles from their home in Mishawaka, Indiana to Champaign.  It was a Thursday.

Unfortunately (?) Quron Marks was a high school athlete.  That means, as far as the NCAA is concerned, that he was a prospect. Driving him to campus was an NCAA violation.

Jackson’s adoptive family, the Whitfields, came to town on Saturday, September 1st, and watched some of the football game against Western Michigan. Then they drove the two boys home.  The story of Jackson and the Whitfield family is very well documented. Basically, they took him in when he needed a home.

Quron Marks paid for all his meals “and entertainment” during his visit. But that’s immaterial. Walker gave him a ride valued at $106.08 ($.51 per mile), so unless and until Marks reimbursed the university, he was ruled ineligible to receive an athletic scholarship (that wasn’t offered).

Ryan Squire — then in charge of compliance at the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, now its Chief Integrity Officer – says this wouldn’t be the case if the recruit were Michael Finke, and the addition guest his brother Tim.

That is going back a little ways, but I don’t recall the other prospect being a foster brother. I thought it was just his good friend from Mishawaka. It would absolutely have been different if the other person was his relative as NCAA rules give us some relief when a brother or sister is a prospect and wants to be part of the official visit.

So, for example, we could transport Michael Finke’s brother to campus along with Michael and his family for the official visit. We could not, however, transport one of Michael’s high school teammates to campus for the official visit.

Marks eventually enrolled at Bethel College, and then Holy Cross College (NAIA). Jackson played for Notre Dame, beating John Groce and the Illini in the grand reopening of State Farm Center on December 2, 2015. He’s now playing for the Boston Celtics.

Jackson’s eligibility to play for Illinois was not affected by this infraction. Only Marks’s was. And lots of paperwork was generated.