LSU, players given cash by Odell Beckham Jr. unlikely to face significant NCAA penalties

LSU is unlikely to face any significant penalties from the NCAA stemming from some of its players seemingly accepting cash from Odell Beckham Jr. after the College Football National Championship on Monday night, two compliance experts told CBS Sports.

LSU compliance continues to investigate whether Beckham, the team's former star wide receiver who currently plays for the Cleveland Browns, handed out cash to Tigers players on the field of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome after LSU's 42-25 win over Clemson. A tweet that surfaced Monday night appeared to show Beckham hand out cash to WR Justin Jefferson.

The morning after the game, an LSU official showed CBS Sports a counterfeit bill saying that's what was handed out by Beckham.

However, quarterback Joe Burrow said on the "Pardon My Take" podcast that night that the money handed out by Beckham was authentic.

Any senior or junior headed to the draft likely would not be impacted.

"My takeaway is that they were celebrating and having fun," said Tim Nevius, a former NCAA enforcement official. "This is overly scrutinized despite the fact it could potentially be a rules violation. But it is unlikely to impact anyone's eligibility because the guys who accepted the money are leaving.

"And any underclassmen who got money, there is a threshold that will require them to repay the money that would not likely result in a suspension."

Per NCAA Bylaw 12.4.1, a player suspension (with repayment) doesn't kick in until the benefit ranges from $200-$500.

It's the same rule that impacted Ohio State defensive end Chase Young during the season. Young was suspended two weeks while his case worked its way through the NCAA. It was determined he had repaid a loan used to -- he claimed -- fly his girlfriend to last year's Rose Bowl.

What the NCAA would be most interested in regarding LSU, Nevius said, was whether this was an orchestrated scheme by a booster to compensate players. That seems unlikely, although Beckham may have become a booster in the NCAA's eyes once he donated headphones to LSU players prior to the game. Those gifts were approved by the NCAA.

Both Nevius and former Florida State and FAU compliance official Brian Battle agreed. Only LSU underclassmen who received money would be impacted.  

"If they've already played in their last game, they're probably not going to be implicated by the rules," Battle said.

Any money given to an underclassmen would likely be classified an extra benefit under NCAA bylaw 16.11.

Nevius investigated Ohio State during in the infamous Tattoogate case. He said one of the interpretations during that time was that extra benefits exist in "perpetuity," even after eligibility expires.

"The reason for that is they don't want some booster saying, 'You come to Ohio State, we'll give you a pendant or ring for every touchdown you score or for every tackle you make,' Nevius said. "At the other end of that transaction is a guy who will buy those items for $1,000 apiece."

If anything, Beckham's conduct was a straight cash deal. LSU is also investigating how Beckham got on the field in the first place. Schools are allowed a limit of 150 passes for sponsors, parents, etc. to hand out for the postgame celebration.

In the aftermath of the game, Beckham was seen celebrating in the LSU locker room where he slapped a police officer on the butt. An arrest warrant for simple battery has been issued for the Browns wideout.

Nevius pointed out the irony of Burrow about to become the No. 1 overall pick in the draft while his teammates may have gotten a few dollars. 

"This was a celebration, he said. "People were happy. From everything I saw, it was pretty innocent. Joe Burrow is going to be a multi-millionaire in a manner of a couple of months. Generally, this is a harmless thing, but it's going to be scrutinized because of the people that are involved and the rules that are in play."

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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