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Did Alabama Tamper With Iowa Commit Daviyon Nixon?

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Iowa commit Daviyon Nixon has had quite a week, garnering an offer from the Alabama Crimson Tide. Did they commit a recruiting violation when they made the offer?

Arkansas v Alabama
Nick Saban and Alabama have their choice of top recruits. Did they tamper when they chose one of Iowa’s commits?
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Earlier this week, we reported on a new offer for Class of 2017 defensive tackle commit Daviyon Nixon. As you’ll recall, Nixon is an incredibly talented prospect, originally from Wisconsin. He was verbally committed to Northern Illinois before Iowa made an offer late in the process. The concern was never his football abilities, but rather his grades.

Those concerns came to fruition when Nixon was deemed ineligible by the NCAA last July, months after signing his National Letter of Intent to play for the Hawkeyes. Iowa and Nixon weren’t convinced by the ruling and worked together to file an appeal, which was won back in August, declaring Nixon eligible for the 2017 season. As we reported earlier, Nixon was already enrolled at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs and stayed enrolled at IWCC.

However, we also reported that Nixon had been released from his NLI due to the academic ineligibility. As was so aptly tipped to us by the Iowa Compliance Department, that was not the case.

It seems strange, but according to NationalLetter.org, the NLI remains binding all the way through graduation from junior college, provided a university doesn’t release the player.

If I sign an NLI with an NLI institution but attend a junior college, is my NLI still binding?

Yes. Your NLI remains binding if you do not fulfill the NLI agreement to attend the signing institution. If you sign an NLI then later attend a junior college and graduate from that junior college, the NLI you signed before enrolling in the junior college is no longer binding. This would permit you to sign another NLI to attend an NLI member institution.

In Nixon’s case, the plan is not to complete his Associate of Arts at IWCC since he is academically eligible right now. Rather, he intended to enroll at Iowa in January.

So this begs the question - if he was still bound to Iowa under his NLI and Crimson Tide defensive line coach Karl Dunbar indeed called Nixon, as the Des Moines Register has reported, did the Tide commit a recruiting violation?

Other institutions are not permitted to contact players with a signed NLI, according to the current rules:

Once you sign an NLI, all other institutions are obligated to cease contacting you and your family members. Accordingly, you have an obligation to notify any coach from an NLI institution that you have signed an NLI. Any contact in excess of an exchange of a greeting is not permitted regardless of the conversation. The conversation does not have to result in recruiting discussion for a recruiting ban violation to occur.

One possible explanation would be that Nixon’s NLI was declared null and void because of academics. He was initially ruled a non-qualifier, but he won the appeal and it would seem most verbiage regarding that scenario wouldn’t really apply to him.

At the end of the day, it’s hard to envision a scenario where the NCAA comes down on Alabama, even if it does seem they have committed a recruiting violation by tampering with an Iowa commit. However, it would seem like the Hawkeyes have a better chance at keeping him in the fold than they typically might when someone like Nick Saban comes calling.