Ugly, Ugly, Ugly: Phil Mickelson Advises 17-Year-Old to Lie About Money Matters; NCAA Sanctions Coming?

lightsCould Nick Saban or Jim Harbaugh get away with “losing” $5000 to recruits?  Do you think Calipari and Krzyzewski have their wives play $5000 games of “H-O-R-S-E” with recruits?

Phil Mickelson, who remains a target of a continuing FBI investigation into illegal insider trading of Dean Foods stock options, lost $5000 in a bet to a 17-year-old Australian amateur Ryan Ruffels last December and is now blasting the kid for discussing the matter with the media:

“[Y]ou don’t discuss certain things. You don’t discuss specifics of what you play for. And you certainly don’t embellish and create a false amount just for your own benefit. So those things right there are — that’s high school stuff, and he’s going to have to stop doing that now that he’s out on the PGA Tour.”

You don’t discuss certain things?  Is that what Billy Walters told you before the FBI interviewed you about Dean Foods and Clorox?  Keep it down home, cuz, doncha know.

By the way, it is indeed “high school stuff.”  The kid is 17 years old.  In fact, the only reason you were playing him was because he was in high school; you wanted to convince him to play on your brother’s college golf team.

If Mickelson is now losing money to 17-year-olds, perhaps that might explain why he had to send nearly $3 million dollars to Gregory Silveira, famed money launderer.

There is a giant question that needs to be answered:  Why was Phil Mickelson playing a money game with an amateur recruit for his brother’s golf team?  The match was in December, and young Ruffels did not turn pro until January.  The specifics of the bet were that the kid would collect immediately, but would not have to pay until he turned pro.

Now, do you think Nick Saban or Jim Harbaugh or Dabo Swinney’s brother could get away with “losing” $5000 to recruits?  Do you think Calipari and Krzyzewski have their wives play $5000 games of H-O-R-S-E with recruits?

Just when you think Phil Mickelson has hit rock bottom, he finds a way to keep digging.

Mickelson’s brother should be fired, and Arizona State’s golf team should be put on probation.  Bryson DeChambeau was deprived of a chance to repeat as NCAA champion for a far lesser infraction.  One he had nothing to do with.

The golf media has always taken a “my, but isn’t that cute” attitude regarding Phil Mickelson’s gambling.  The joke isn’t funny anymore.

By the way, midway through the second round at Torrey Pines, the 17-year-old is leading Phil Mickelson by a stroke.

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16 Responses to Ugly, Ugly, Ugly: Phil Mickelson Advises 17-Year-Old to Lie About Money Matters; NCAA Sanctions Coming?

  1. Anon says:

    lanny, compare to cam newton how phil is treated. even you can fiigure out why.

  2. lannyh says:

    I don’t know about that, but there is certainly some reason the golf media — and perhaps the legal system — seem to have a hands-off policy toward Mickelson.

    As for Cam… Go, Panthers!

  3. DanishDude says:

    I really don’t blame Mickelson for his reaction, since the story apparently (by Ruffels’ own admission) is largely fabricated.

    • lannyh says:

      Oh, come on. I was born at night, but not last night. Ruffels spilled the beans, Mickelson freaked out, and they tried to backpedal.

      It’s nothing new for Mickelson to be mixed up with something sordid.

      Think through this… Say the kid lied (and what would his motivation be? a 17-year-old beating a Tour pro would not be interesting enough, so he felt the need to spice it up with the money?) and they didn’t play for money. In that case could Mickelson have exploded and given a lecture, or would he have laughed it off, calling the kid a nut? Mickelson seemed not to be denying the betting, but trying to talk down the amount. If Mickelson lost “only $2000” to the recruit, would that be okay?

      This stinks to high heaven.

      • Lawrence says:

        You missed the part about this round taking place in December well after Ruffels had decided to turn pro and he already had a deal with Nike. The Australian newspaper — which would have no inkling about NCAA violations– was unclear on the timeline. Phil’s involvement with recruiting was a year ago. None of this explains his bizarre scolding of Ruffels.

      • lannyh says:

        What are you talking about? Ruffels signed with Nike just two weeks ago.

        In fact, the amateur rankings website has not even been updated yet:

        Mickelson’s involvement with recruiting, as I wrote in my piece, was a month ago.

        As for what Ruffels may have “decided to” do, Mickelson was trying to change his mind. If you follow NCAA college football recruiting at all, you’ll know that kids are constantly changing their “verbal commitments,” committing and decommitting until the day they sign.

  4. Lawrence says:

    Mickelson’s involvement with recruiting was a year ago when he was a volunteer assistant for his brother at ASU. He called him Ruffels at that time, and it was widely reported. Then that segment of Phil’s career ended in January of 2015. They played on Dec. 21, 2015.. Ruffels was clearly going to turn pro at that point. He is the one who sought the round with Mickelson, wanting to play at Torrey Pines. I don’t doubt his story about the bet for a moment. Why would he make it up?. The “announcement” of him turning pro came in January so it could be lined up to do so in Australia. Not defending Phil calling him out, that was poor form and unnecessary. But the timeline makes an NCAA infraction seem unlikely.

    • lannyh says:

      I have a major piece coming out on this. This is a violation of NCAA recruiting rules. Just because a kid says or thinks he is turning pro (or going to another university), you can’t put money in his pocket. See, the entire point of the five grand was to change the kid’s mind.

  5. Lawrence says:

    You really think he didn’t have that Nike deal lined up by then? That he hadn’t hired an agent? All of that would render his amateur status moot

  6. Lawrence says:

    Jan 15 is when it was announced. He was clearly talking to them before then. He had an agent negotiating for him. Did he not sign with the agent? These things don’t happen in a week or even a month. you can bet that as soon as he played his last Australian event as an amateur, he had made the decision to go pro. Declaring yourself a pro is what matters ,not the date you sign an agreement with a sponsor. The Sydney Morning Herald story screwed up the timeline which has made this into something it shouldn’t be

    • lannyh says:

      “Declaring yourself a pro is what matters ,not the date you sign an agreement with a sponsor.”

      That’s simply not true. “Declaring” has nothing to do with it. Bryson Chambeau has stated he is turning pro after he plays in the three majors for which his US Am title gained him entry. If he turned pro, he would be ineligible. But clearly he has “declared.” Again, what you say has nothing to do with it.

      As for the agent, he did have one. A year ago. However, NCAA policy allows that for high school-aged players, who are allowed to get free clubs from a manufacturer without losing eligibility. Once in college, the free clubs are no longer allowed.

      Here’s a guide comparing USGA to NCAA. Now, bear in mind, the kid is from Australia, so I’m not sure what their rules says, or if the NCAA treats foreign players differently.

      Read the last box for Contract with a Third Party. I need to find the actual NCAA regulations instead of this comparison, but it’s a good place to start.

  7. Lawrence says:

    Your Chambeau example is a good one; he has as an agent and is playing as an amateur. But from my reading of your usga link, that would disqualify him from playing NCAA golf. As you know, he left SMU so that’s no longer an issue. But he can have an agent looking for his interests and still play amateur golf. Still sounds like a possibility for shadiness (do you really think Tiger didn’t have a deal with Nike before he won his 3rd U.S. Amateur?) that the USGA allows but the NCAA doesn’t.

    Still, here is what Ruffels said at his news conference on Jan. 15, before this whole thing blew up because of the Sydney newspaper story: “It’s been an anxious wait to tell everyone,” Ruffels told Golf Australia. “For probably 2-3 months I’ve been set on this particular time, and it’s pretty exciting the time is finally here.”

    At that point, he had no reason to cover his tracks. He had made up his mind well before the Phil practice round that he requested. Now is it possible that they felt there was still a chance to get him to ASU? Perhaps. I have to agree with you that it is a possibility. And their actions since are so strange — why would Phil care that the kid talked about a wager when Phil has made a habit of it himself?

    But can this really go anywhere? It just seems doubtful given the he-said, he-said nature and the timeline. Ruffels actions prior to his round with Phil would almost assuredly have ended his NCAA eligibility, even if the USGA still deemed him an amateur.

    • lannyh says:

      Regarding Woods his father became an IMG “junior talent scout” when Woods was something like 12 years old. You tell me who IMG was really paying.

      There’s a lot of deniability in all this. I mean, if you go back to the original phone call, Arizona State concocted some story about Mickelson being a temporary assistant coach to avoid penalty. It’s critical to recognize that “making up your mind” or “deciding” or “announcing” does nothing to disqualify you. It’s all about contracts and receiving money. It’s like joining the Army; until you sign, you’re a civilian.

      One section of that comparison article pointed out an exception for high school kids. I just read a piece at Shackelford wherein the Georgia coach said almost all his recruits showed up with equipment deals from high school. I understand that signing with an agent is a problem, but there seem to be exceptions and certain situations where it is okay. As well, if Ruffels had not taken any money, and was still considered an amateur (as he was), he might have gotten an exemption from the NCAA even though he had signed. I’m not familiar with the ins-and-outs of NCAA golf recruiting, so I don’t know what kind of precedents have been set in the past.

      I think they were still trying to flip him. Notice that not once has anyone said, “Ruffels took money from his agent prior to the January announcement.” If he had, that would put the issue to rest. Of course, if that had happened, people would expect to see a paper trail. Checks, bank deposits.

      To me, it’s kind of like the O.J. Simpson situation. He skated, but everyone knew he did it. Mickelson has a history of thinking he’s above it all, so this kind of impropriety is right in character.

      But step back and consider the optics. Mickelson is being investigated by the FBI for breaking insider trading laws. He had already had a situation with a phone call to Ruffels where Arizona State retroactively tells us that Mickelson was a “temporary assistant coach.” And now Mickelson “loses” five grand or whatever to the kid (who still had amateur status, even if the NCAA status is cloudy)?

      • DanishDude says:

        So you’re saying that Mickelson lost the match on purpose, and the alleged 5K was some sort of bribe in order to get the kid to sign for ASU?

        That just doesn’t make sense. Why would Ruffels go public with the story?

      • lannyh says:

        I’m saying the NCAA has rules in place forbidding such things.

        The history of college football is filled with stories of star players getting high-dollar “summer jobs” they didn’t even attend. Do you think you could find a Florida Gators booster who would gladly lose a game of poker to a football recruit if it meant he’d sign with Florida? If you need a reminder, one of this Sunday’s starting QBs was investigated about the accusation of his father asking for money to play at Mississippi State. Recruiting violations are common, and often penalties are assessed. Ole Miss just got his with sanctions this past week.

        Ruffels doesn’t give a shit. He didn’t break any law. What does he know (or care) about NCAA rules Mickelson and his brother might or might not be violating?

        You can take events that have already happened and create “doesn’t make any sense” scenarios if you want. The $3 million gambling loss Mickelson sent to the money launderer: Why, that doesn’t make any sense; Mickelson was already filthy rich; why would he need to gamble on sports?

        If you think such a scenario seems too clumsy and oafish for Mickelson to engage in, I refer you to Clorox and Dean Foods.

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