CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Message to athletes: There's no benefit in taking small gifts

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Kansas State's Jacob Pullen accepted between $100 and $300 in discounted clothing at a department store. That's an extra benefit, according to the NCAA. So Pullen is suspended three games because extra benefits in that range generally call for a player to miss 10 percent of his school's regular season. Meantime, teammate Curtis Kelly accepted between $300 and $500 in discounted clothing at the same department store. (He had a better hookup.) That's also an extra benefit, according to the NCAA. So Kelly is suspended six games because extra benefits in that range generally call for a player to miss 20 percent of his school's regular season.

Frank Martin would probably rather have Curtis Kelly not take any gifts. (US Presswire)  
Frank Martin would probably rather have Curtis Kelly not take any gifts. (US Presswire)  
And that's all you need to know about KSU's situation.

The players got hooked up at a store, got caught and now they're paying a price while our shopped-by-his-father Heisman Trophy winner continues to prepare for the national title game, and, yes, there's something hilarious about that.

But I'm not here to rant about an All-American missing three games because he basically got $200 worth of clothing for $80 while the nation's best football player missed nothing, even though his father tried to sell him for $180,000.

I could rant, obviously. But that's pointless. So instead I'm going to again educate and advise America's student-athletes, because there are lessons to be learned from this situation, and those lessons are simple.

Lesson No. 1: Let your father violate the rules.

(No explanation needed. We learned this strategy weeks ago.)

Lesson No. 2: Stay clean or go big.

That's what I realized -- or at least was reminded of -- when Kansas State announced Kelly's suspension Tuesday and highlighted the guidelines generally applied to extra benefits. It's basically 10 percent of the regular season for benefits ranging from $100 to $300, 20 percent for benefits ranging from $300 to $500, and 30 percent for benefits of more than $500. That's why Kelly got six games (20 percent) for taking between $300 and $500 in extra benefits and why Kansas freshman Josh Selby got nine games (30 percent) for taking nearly $6,000 in extra benefits.

The difference between $300 and $6,000 is three games.

Kansas State
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And there's really no difference between $600 and $6,000.

So, again, stay clean or go big. Don't take a shirt, take a car. Don't take shoes, take vacations. As I've pointed out many times, the odds of getting caught are extremely low, so you're probably OK regardless. But the absolute dumbest thing you can do is what Pullen and Kelly did, i.e., get busted and pay a real price over something as small as a few hundred dollars worth of clothes.

It's like risking your marriage on an ugly chick. Needless to say, you should never risk your marriage, period (I'm a married man and required to say that). But if you're gonna pay the price, make sure it's worth it. Shoot for Brooklyn Decker, Adriana Lima or Rachel Bilson -- Bilson is extremely underrated, by the way -- or at least somebody who looks like Brooklyn Decker, Adriana Lima or Rachel Bilson. Stay true or shoot for the stars.

Pullen and Kelly?

They hooked up with Ugly Betty.

That's just stupid.

So if you're a student-athlete reading this who is considering taking extra benefits, do what the basketball star from Kansas did, not what the basketball stars from Kansas State did. Take a flight. Take a car. Take a hotel room. Take it all. But don't risk your eligibility over clothing (unless, of course, it's Lima's $2 million bra) because risking your eligibility over clothing is silly.

Stay clean or go big. As the Kansas State saga shows, the small stuff just isn't worth it.


Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.
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