Potential 2013 LSU returnee Tyrann Mathieu's association with a homegrown entertainment association called Era Nation could get him in trouble with the NCAA, Sports Illustrated's Thayer Evans and Pete Thamel report. Mathieu has appeared on fliers used to promote parties and allegedly been given access to the VIP area of a Baton Rouge club, which could violate the NCAA's rule against impermissible benefits.
These aren't entirely uncommon things for college football players to be associated with -- last December, Clemson's Sammy Watkins and South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney appeared on party fliers, for example. No major consequences followed for the star players. But the NCAA's behavior cannot easily be predicted, so we'll see.
But what's good for Era Nation may not be helping Mathieu. Several of the Era Nation videos promote events at a Baton Rouge club called The Palace. One in particular encourages viewers to attend an Era Nation party at the club on March 10, 2012. Mathieu appears in the video, and an event promoter says "the whole LSU football team" will be there. A flyer for the party has two photographs of Mathieu in his LSU jersey and describes the event as an "Era Nation Album Release Party For Tyrann Mathieu." It also features photographs of former LSU standout Mo Claiborne and current LSU sophomore defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, who are listed as the party's hosts. Johnson denied any involvement; Clairborne says he was aware of the party but did not attend.
In another video Mathieu is on stage at The Palace in front of a large crowd, using a microphone to talk about the club's chicken wings and fries. Somebody closely affiliated with the club told SI that Mathieu received access to the club's VIP area. "Every time he came, we let all the football players, like his teammates, in for free," said the person. He added that Mathieu knew his photo would be used on the promotional flyer for the March 10 party. He identified Johnson and other LSU football players as visitors who received special treatment. Johnson declined to comment about receiving any benefits.
Mathieu was kicked off LSU's football team just before the start of the season after his third failed drug test, but since enrolling in rehab, he's been described as having a "legitimate change" of playing for LSU next year, Les Miles has said.
More important than the NCAA will be Mathieu's willingness to sever himself from people who've helped him get in trouble in the first place.
This post first appeared on SBNation.com.