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L.S.U. Examines Whether Odell Beckham Jr. Gave Cash to Players

L.S.U. Examines Whether Odell Beckham Jr. Gave Cash to Players

First came a national championship. Then, apparently, some cash. Now, Louisiana State is reckoning with the possibility that part of its title-winning football team violated rules governing benefits for student-athletes.

In a statement on Wednesday, the university said it had reviewed video, which was widely disseminated online, that showed Odell Beckham Jr., a former L.S.U. wide receiver now with the Cleveland Browns, giving “apparent cash” to players in a possible breach of N.C.A.A. bylaws.

The video showed Beckham, minutes after the title game’s conclusion in New Orleans, standing before a crowd of cameras and microphones on Superdome’s field, counting bills and slapping them into the hand of Justin Jefferson, a wide receiver for L.S.U.

Regardless of whether L.S.U. faces penalties for any violations, the episode and the resulting inquiry are unwelcome issues for a university celebrating its first national football championship since the 2007 season.

“We were in contact with the N.C.A.A. and the SEC immediately upon learning of this situation in which some of our student-athletes may have been placed in a compromising position,” said a statement from L.S.U. on Wednesday. The statement added that the school was coordinating with its players and regulators “in order to rectify the situation.”

L.S.U. initially said that it appeared the bills handed out by Beckham were novelty currency. But by Wednesday evening, the university’s position had shifted, prompting the carefully worded statement.

A spokeswoman for the N.C.A.A. declined to comment. Beckham’s agent was not immediately available for comment.

A crucial element of any investigation and its fallout will be whether Beckham offered money to any players who remain on next season’s L.S.U. roster, and whether they accepted the cash. Jefferson, for instance, said Wednesday that he would enter the N.F.L. draft this spring, which could make him no longer subject to the N.C.A.A.’s amateurism rules.

Joe Burrow, the L.S.U. quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy last month, told the podcast “Pardon My Take” that he had received money from Beckham sometime after the game.

“I’m not a student-athlete anymore, so I can say yeah,” said Burrow, a graduate transfer whose eligibility ended with the game and could be the top pick of the draft in April.

Ed Orgeron, L.S.U.’s coach, was asked at a news conference on Tuesday morning about the video, which was already circulating online. He said he had not heard about it.


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