Kerdiles' Relationship With Pulver Sports Creates Murky Situation

"Team Lunch" Photo via twitter account: @AlyonkaLarionov

Wisconsin freshman Nic Kerdiles' social media relationship with Pulver Sports brings up more questions than it answers.

By now, most everyone is aware of the situation revolving around Wisconsin freshman Nic Kerdiles and the NCAA. On Friday, the NCAA ruled that Kerdiles is ineligible to play for one season.

Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves briefly addressed the situation at his weekly media availability on Monday afternoon. The following is the transcript of how he led off his press conference:

"Before we get started, going to talk about the elephant in the corner of the room, and that's the Nic Kerdiles situation. We have a couple of things that we can speak about. So I'll share those with you. First of all, the investigation of the NCAA is an amateur status issue. The NCAA has said that Nic, the withholdings are for a year, and we're appealing this decision immediately. Those are the three things I wanted to share. I'm just going to put it out there right now. Should you ask me any further questions, I'm going to ask for next question because we've been asked not to go into any more detail. I hope you'll respect that wish."

As we previously reported, sources have confirmed that Kerdiles' relationship with advisors from Pulver Sports has been called into question.

In our last update, we detailed two photos that have surfaced that may have put Kerdiles' eligibility in question. One is from a dinner at the NHL Scouting Combine with representatives from Pulver Sports.

The other situation includes a photo tweeted by Pulver Sports that shows Kerdiles and two other NHL prospects holding BioSteel supplements. That could be considered an NCAA violation of an athlete promoting a product.

The concerning issue here is that multiple people with NCAA compliance history have noted that the evidence presented with both photos does not come close to equaling the punishment levied by the NCAA.

What that says to me is that either the NCAA significantly overstepped its bounds -- and we can expect a significant retraction of the current punishment -- or there is a lot more to this that we're not currently aware of.

As I've mentioned previously, it's not against NCAA rules to associate with an advisor, even if that advisor is a certified NHL agent.

Bucky's 5th Quarter obtained a hockey-specific memo sent out by former College Hockey, Inc. director Paul Kelly last year while he was still in charge. The memo specifically addresses NCAA rules in regards to agents and advisors:

  • Young athletes, who I will refer to as prospective student-athletes (PSAs), are not permitted to have agents who market their hockey skills or negotiate with professional teams on their behalf. The definition of a professional team includes major junior teams (NCAA bylaw 12.2.3.2.4).
  • PSAs may not have written or oral agreements with agents. This includes agreements for future representation.
  • Family members of PSAs are not permitted to have written or oral agreements with agents.
  • PSAs are not permitted to accept benefits from agents, such as money, meals, clothing, hockey equipment, or other things of value.
  • PSAs and their families are permitted to have advisors to offer guidance and advice, so long as that advisor does not market his or her client's hockey skills or negotiate with professional teams on behalf of the client.
  • If a PSA or his family uses the services of an advisor, he must compensate that advisor in an amount equal to the services provided. A modest annual fee is recommended.

Basically, Kerdiles or any other player can receive guidance and advice from advisors as long as the player does not receive one single benefit of value from the advisor. That means no meals, no cab fare, no plane tickets, no hotel rooms, no equipment, etc.

That shouldn't be an issue, as long as Kerdiles paid for 100 percent of his expenses on trips he may have taken for the draft, the combine, player development camp or anything else.

However, the part that catches my eye is where it says, "PSAs and their families are permitted to have advisors to offer guidance and advice, so long as that advisor does not market his or her client's hockey skills."

The second part is a bit concerning, given Pulver Sports' history on Twitter. While the NCAA rulebook itself doesn't mention Twitter, it seems like any tweet from a representative of an agency that includes a prospective student-athlete would imply marketing of that client's hockey skills.

Whether it be mentioning that the player was drafted or that he had a big game, the NCAA could conceivably consider that marketing of a client's skills.

Even if it's not, I feel like some of the Tweets from agents at Pulver Sports are pushing the boundaries of what could be considered by the NCAA as a potential violation. At minimum, Tweets from or about Pulver Sports were enough to trigger an NCAA investigation into the relationship of a student-athlete and an agency.

This should be a lesson for future student-athletes and advisors on what not to do in handling clients through social media.

The following is a sample of Tweets collected by Bucky's 5th Quarter from the Twitter accounts of Pulver Sports employees Ian Pulver (@pulversports), Daniel Tolensky (@dtolensky), John Walters (@jwalters82) and Igor Larionov (@Igor_Larionov).

Also included is a picture tweeted by Larionov's daughter Alyonka (@AlyonkaLarionov) of Kerdiles at a restaurant with representatives from Pulver Sports at the NHL Draft combine.

Note that Kerdiles twitter account was shut down on, or shortly after August 15th. I was told that was due to this NCAA investigation which has been ongoing for months. Notice that there hasn't been a single mention of Kerdiles since August 9th from anyone at Pulver Sports.

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