You can’t tell me that you were surprised.
I have a hard time believing that anyone, particularly Ohio State fans, thought that the NCAA’s decision regarding Miami’s morass would be severe.
If you were, then I have some lovely desert space in that state up north to sell you.
That Tuesday’s announcement of the Hurricane program finally receiving it’s clarification following a two year process filled with grandstanding, ineptitude, and foot dragging would shock some folks is difficult to fathom. In spite of the allegations, in spite of the evidence and information gathered by an outside source, in spite of what seemed to be a tsunami of facts and accounts that was described as “the biggest scandal in college sports”, the NCAA’s decision to accept Miami’s self imposed sanctions and add a few minor flourishes was just the latest in the long decline in that Association’s ability to be considered integrous.
Actually, that’s not correct. Being consistently inconsistent has a certain integrity of it’s own, right? Broken clocks being right twice daily and all that.
Before we go much further, let me state that this is not an attempt to critique the Hurricane program or it’s fans. I’ve long believed that consequences should be levied at the players/coaches/administrators who were involved, and am glad that the ‘Canes are now able to move past Damocles’ sword and instead focus on the upcoming run at an ACC/BCS title.
However, it’s difficult to not see Tuesday’s decision as anything other than a justification for what many have been calling for in a while- a complete overhaul of the NCAA’s “judicial” arm, if not a full dissolution of the Association itself.
Take a closer look at Miami’s sanctions, in light of the dollar amount (over $170K in provable violations) and number of student athletes involved. Look, too, at the coaches who might have been connected to the situation, and notice that the phrases “lack of institutional control” and “decade of violations” were levied in the NCAA’s findings.
Then take time to revisit Eric’s great work on NCAA violations, which has not yet been updated with several issues (we’ll address these later). As you look, pay attention to Southern Cal, who set the bar for “hammers dropped”. As the Trojans fight on to make a season work with limited scholarships resultant from one student athlete and one coach who “should have known”, try to compare this with Miami’s findings. Particularly now that the Hurricanes, with more scholarships to offer than the Men of Troy, have now “flipped” a valued SC recruit.
“But the Hurricanes cooperated with the NCAA, while the Trojans and Buckeyes lied and fought back“. True, the administration from Coral Gables did work closely with the investigation, but remember that the NCAA commended USC for their participation in the process as well. Ohio State? Well, it’s easy to forget that the lynchpin of the sanctions stemmed from an internal digital search in response to another query, and the University not only self reported but invited the NCAA to join them in their process.
“Yeah, but Miami already missed out on two post-seasons, including an ACC championship game, by their own decision. The NCAA said that was part of the response“. True, although the likelihood of either of these “opportunities” being anything but another financial drain on the program is unlikely. Sure, there’s the lost practices and recruiting prestige, but like Urban Meyer, Al Golden seems to have managed to do just fine minus these elements.
As to why the Buckeyes didn’t self sanction the Gator Bowl two years ago… well, I’ll let the AD and Board Of Trustees handle that issue.
But look past the Trojans and Buckeyes, and remember that Michigan has the same “probationary” status as the Hurricanes for practicing too much. Like Da U, the Wolverines also self-sanctioned a bowl ban as part of the Rodriguez hire. (heyo!)
Look also to Boise State, who is under sanction for, in part, having a recruit sleep on a current player’s couch and having “improper transportation” provided to an out of state student who borrowed a car. Again, probation and three scholarships per year lost, same as the Hurricanes.
You could even argue that Penn State’s situation shows an over-reach by the NCAA, one that even the Association is waffling on, as they adjust scholarship limits after the University’s cooperation. As a Buckeye fan who’s watched the development of one of the largest and most encompassing Compliance Office in the country, I’m curious as to what additional cooperation might be necessary for Ohio State to be able to have a full recruiting class next year.
But instead of looking at those decisions, look instead to the present day. Oregon’s head coach was found to have essentially paid for a player, and the Ducks lost no post-season opportunities. Oh, and that coach was given job limitations… after he’d already secured a position in the NFL.
And that’s not to mention the NCAA’s decision to just look the other way when North Carolina essentially disregarded the first part of the “Student-athlete” ideal by committing academic fraud with some of their basketball and football players. In addition to other issues in Chapel Hill…
Oh, and if there’s photographic evidence of your star player signing numerous autographs for persons who sell them for a living, well, you’d better sit him out for two quarters.
And Alabama, on top of their laundry list of issues over the past several years, was recently found to have a coach connected to an agent providing money to student athletes. This following information from the same sources that outed Miami and Oregon regarding members of the Tide having longstanding relationships with outside financial services. And yet, no whispers from Indianapolis.
Perhaps the NCAA just doesn’t trust Charles Robinson and his staff.
It’s easy to be surprised by these types of things; to be frustrated at the “injustice” of it all. But doing so fails to recognize what’s shifted in the past few months. The NCAA is under attack for it’s foundational tenet of “amateurism”, and even has had it’s investigation and compliance arms crippled by under the weight of it’s own incompetence and finds it’s staffing lacking.
The drumbeats that used to be the death knell for programs under the microscope have shifted, and are now clamoring outside Mark Emmert’s gates.
To look at the Ohio State and Southern Cal situations in the light of current events is to deny that things are different. In some ways, it’s analogous to comparing sports teams of different eras: this year’s Buckeye squad has the possibility of breaking the offensive marks set by the 1995 team… but it should be noted that the 2013 squad has more games and runs an offense with higher octane in a time where defenses are hampered by the rules. Not that both teams aren’t memorable, but it’s important to look at the larger picture.
And, for the purposes of our conversation, the larger picture is that the NCAA is growing more and more marginalized by the moment. What would normally have been a top story on various sports sites, the Miami decision is only a blip on the radar… which is good for Hurricane fans, but seems to again highlight what we said earlier.
No one should have been surprised that the NCAA’s Tuesday announcement looked inconsistent with their other work. Instead, it’s more surprising that anyone paid attention to the announcement at all.
The Emperor has no clothes… in fact, the emperor isn’t even the emperor anymore.