Yes, our love is real.
That's what former Oklahoma center Gabe Ikard and his girlfriend essentially had to confirm to appease the OU compliance office that their presence at Oklahoma City Thunder basketball games was not potentially an NCAA violation. Ikard, who signed as an undrafted free agent with the Tennessee Titans, attends Thunder games as a guest of his girlfriend, who owns the seats. OU compliance, in turn, wanted to be sure their relationship wasn't just about the tickets themselves, which they feared could constitute an NCAA violation.
"They did some digging, then I actually, a compliance official, with my girlfriend, we had to sign signed a affidavit that she was not dating me just because I was a football player," Ikard said. "They kind of drafted it themselves. ... I said, 'She just likes big guys, just accept it.'"
Don't believe your eyes? Try your ears, at the 1:05 mark:
The easy thing to do here, of course, is to bash OU compliance. But the real culprit is a more familiar and deserving target: the NCAA and its overly-thick rulebook. Compliance offices all over the country are charged with the near-impossible task of chasing down every rumor, every perceived impropriety, almost no matter how silly or innocuous, to ensure that its school and the NCAA infractions committee never have to cross paths.
It is due diligence to an extreme degree, to be sure. But the compliance mentality is one that errs on the side of caution, and for good reason. Because when a school ends up on probation or otherwise in hot NCAA water because of anything a compliance official missed or assumed didn't rise to the level of a violation, the scapegoating starts with them.
At a big-time football program with zealous boosters and a rabid fan base such as OU, compliance officers should be paid in gold bars. With Thunder tickets as a bonus.