News is circulating today of five more Southeastern Conference NCAA football stars violating the league’s rules regarding receiving supplemental benefits prior to completing their college careers. Yahoo Sports released documents and e-mail, text message and money transfer records that implicate first-round NFL draft pick and former Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, among others.
Fluker is alleged to have accepted thousands of dollars from Luther Davis, the man who gave these players the money after receiving $45,000 himself from NFL-level agents and advisers. What makes Fluker specifically interesting is his poverty-stricken history, which some suggest is a good enough reason for him to break the rules.
1. Fluker Did Not Have a Bed to Himself Until He Was 15
Fluker had the furthest thing from an easy, comfortable upbringing. He grew up with an abusive father, according to UT San Diego. The family moved a lot, which was easier since they did not have much in the way of possessions. DJ’s education suffered as he jumped from elementary school to elementary school. If the family was ever contacted by school counselors or child services about living arrangements, conditions, or clothing, they just moved again.
His family’s life took a turn for the worst in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit. Their Ninth Ward, New Orleans home (view above) was completely leveled. There was nothing left.
The Fluker family, consisting of DJ’s mother, Annice, and two sisters (Aeriel and Elizabeth), loaded into their car, where they lived for many weeks after the catastrophe.
“Just visualizing it pisses me off,” Fluker said. “That just drives rage in you. That’s what drives me.”
The family relocated to Alabama soon after, according to Nola.com. But on April 27, 2011, tragedy struck again. An F-4 tornado cut through the town, killing 52 people and damaging nearly 2,500 homes, including the Fluker family’s apartment. Their home was once again destroyed. He saw bodies hanging from trees and lying on the side of the road as he drove to get supplies from a nearby town after the weather subsided.
“It just made me feel like anything can be taken away from you at any point in time,” he said. “It has happened to me twice, Katrina and the tornado that came by. But that just gave me motivation that, hey, if I wanted to keep on succeeding, I have to work for it.”
According to Business Insider, Fluker didn’t sleep in a bed to himself until he was 15.
2. Fluker Allegedly Received at Least $33,755 From Davis
The documents revealed through the Yahoo Sports investigation include a line-item invoice that Davis e-mailed to Fluker’s former financial adviser, Hodge Brahmbhatt. The invoice outlined 49 transactions from February 2013. The document listed a $33,755 expenditure under the subject line “D.J. Fluker Invoice.”
Money isn’t the only thing Fluker accepted from Davis. Additional money was spent on practical, everyday items for him and his family. A $1,200 receipt from August 17, 2012, for a bedroom set from Sticks N Stuff in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was uncovered in the investigation. Text messages between Fluker, Davis, and multiple of Sticks N Stuff employees discussed the set being purchased for Fluker, according to Yahoo Sports. The text messages also discussed a $500 discount for the purchase. Here are a portion of those texts from August 3, 2012.
Phone number tied to Fluker: “Did you find out about the bed”
Phone number tied to Davis: “I just paid for the whole suit at sticks and it’ll be in on the 17th”
Phone number tied to Fluker: “oh for real oh ok then.”
Another receipt from July 14, 2012, for $170.61 was also uncovered, which records the reservation and stay of “Danny Lee Jesus Fluker” at the Embassy Suites Hotel in New Orleans.
The full Yahoo Sports article goes on to outline more and more receipts of purchases for Fluker’s family and friends; a hotel receipt for DJ’s girlfriend, round-trip flights for DJ, text messages discussing David depositing thousands of dollars into DJ’s account, and more.
3. Fluker’s Transgressions Could Cost Alabama the Championship
NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199 reads:
…an individual shall be ineligible for participation in an intercollegiate sport if he or she ever has agreed (orally or in writing) to be represented by an agent for the purpose of marketing his or her athletics ability or reputation in that sport. Further, an agency contract not specifically limited in writing to a sport or particular sports shall be deemed applicable to all sports, and the individual shall be ineligible to participate in any sport.
Basically, NCAA players are not allowed to accept any form of compensation from agents or marketing representatives until the end of their college careers. So, according to Yahoo Sports, if the NCAA proves that Fluker is in violation of that rule, they could retroactively nullify a portion of his eligibility. But that really doesn’t mean anything since Fluker is already in the NFL.
With that said, the University of Alabama, the team Fluker helped bring a championship title to, could potentially lose the trophy. It happened with Reggie Bush a few years back, where the University of Southern California was stripped of their 2004 championship title because Bush accepted gifts from the school. We’ll see in the coming weeks or months what the NCAA decides.
4. Fluker Was an All-American in High School and a Star in College
People knew DJ Fluker was going to be in the NFL from a young age. In his first year in the offensive tackle position, he competed at such a high level that he earned high school All-american status.
DJ Fluker attended the University of Alabama, where he played for the Crimson Tide football team from 2009 to 2012. He eventually earned the starting position at left tackle in 2010. He played all but three games due to injury, according to his NFL.com profile. He started his sophomore year healthy and started in all 13 games, helping his team through to win its second BCS championship title in three years. Fluker continued to maintain his starting role at right tackle in the year following. All in all, he played 36 games during his college career in Alabama.
5. Fluker Made His NFL Debut Last Weekend
DJ Fluker was drafted 11th overall in the 2013 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers.
“He’s a guy that we think can be a cornerstone to our offensive line for a long time,” said Tom Telesco, general manager of the Chargers. “He plays with a lot of energy and a lot of passion. You don’t see that very often, especially with big guys. That’s one of the things you see on the tape right away is the energy he plays with.”
He made his first official NFL start in week 1 of the current NFL season against the Houston Texans. The Chargers lost 31-28.