Bush's Turn as Recruiter Grabs NCAA's Attention

Sunday, February 19, 2006

When football star Myron Rolle makes a big play for the Florida State Seminoles next season, fans may want to thank Gov. Jeb Bush.

The governor of this pigskin-crazy state played a role in luring Rolle, one of the top high school recruits in the country, to Florida State University. In recent weeks, the governor's interest in recruiting has been applauded, derided and now even scrutinized by the NCAA.

"I wish I could be there to help you make the case that FSU is the right university for him but I am up in DC dealing with federal-state issues," Bush wrote in an Aug. 4 e-mail to university president T.K. Wetherell. "If you could pass on this e-mail to Myron to let him know that I believe that he will be able to pursue his academic, athletic and volunteer activities really well here in Tallahassee."

A spokesman for the NCAA, which regulates contacts between universities and recruits, said the organization has been in contact with Florida State and is awaiting further information to determine if the Bush contact violated recruiting rules. But probably the toughest questions so far have come from fans of the state's other football powerhouses, the University of Miami Hurricanes and the University of Florida Gators. Why didn't the governor help them enroll Rolle?

Had he known those universities were also recruiting the scholar-athlete, "I would have done the exact same thing for the Gators and for the Hurricanes," Bush said. "Truth be known, I'm a Hurricane fan."

-- Peter Whoriskey

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