Myck Kabongo: Reducing Texas PG's Suspension Was Right Choice by NCAA

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistDecember 22, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 09:  Myck Kabongo #12 of the Texas Longhorns controls the ball in the first half against the Missouri Tigers during the semifinals of the 2012 Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 9, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The NCAA was going to suspend Myck Kabongo for the entire 2012-13 season, but it wound up making the right choice by reducing the length of his suspension to 23 games, including the 11 games that Texas has already played.

ESPN's Andy Katz had the news:

Kabongo originally was banned for a year by the NCAA, but an appeals/reinstatement committee reduced the penalty to 23 games, which includes the 11 games the Longhorns (7-4) already have played.

Kabongo is eligible to return to the Longhorns on Feb. 13 against Iowa State with eight games remaining in the conference schedule.

That's still a steep penalty, especially for someone who has NBA aspirations as early as next season, but it could be much worse. 

Kabongo should be pleased that he gets to play at all this season, even if it's not the best-case scenario. The NCAA takes all cases that involve impermissible benefits seriously, and this situation could have been a lot messier. 

But it didn't have to be. 

According to the NCAA's statement (via Katz's report), "Kabongo accepted airfare, personal training instruction and then provided false and misleading information during two separate interviews with university officials."

No one would condone Kabongo lying to the NCAA, but, in terms of money, we are talking about $475. Kabongo must pay that money back to a charity of his choice, but is it really worth jeopardizing his future in the game?

It's not. Of course it's not. Kabongo may have made a mistake, but taking away his entire season wouldn't have made sense. The punishment would not have fit the crime, and it barely does now.

Part of the problem is how the NCAA handled it. Texas was smart enough to impose a 10-game ban on Kabongo without the organization's involvement.

According to Katz's report, "The NCAA told Texas that a decision had been made for a full-year suspension on Dec. 14. Yet, Texas for the past week said it didn't know of a decision on Kabongo."

If you read further down in the report, you'll notice the confusion on both sides. Perhaps it's Texas claiming misinformation, but the NCAA always seems to make a mess of these situations—just ask Shabazz Muhammad.

The NCAA must preserve the integrity of college athletics, but it must be done in a clean and conscientious way. Players like Kabongo lose value by sitting for any period of time. 

Sitting 23 games is enough for Kabongo. If you ask his Texas teammates, it's actually quite a long time. It's easy to punish a young player for a mistake, but the length of the punishment must fit the severity of the crime.

Allowing Kabongo to go unpunished would have been unwise and unfair, but taking his entire sophomore season away could have had a dramatic impact on the rest of his college and future NBA career.

The NCAA showed proper restraint here. Even though it continues to go about things in the wrong way, at least Kabongo will see the floor this season.