The NCAA—purveyors of a great amateur sports network dedicated to teaching young athletes about the true meaning of athletics, disregarding all benefits, monetary or otherwise—will not let the Louisville men go to New Orleans to support their women counterparts.
Cardinal Authority's Jody Demling (h/t Big Lead Sports) reported the Louisville Cardinals, right on the heels of a stirring championship win over Michigan, wanted to support their women who are hoping to do the same in New Orleans.
UPDATE: Tuesday, April 9 at 1:25 p.m. ET
It seems the NCAA heard your cries, but far too late. The Associated Press reports the NCAA changed its tune on Tuesday.
The NCAA says it granted a waiver to Louisville early Tuesday that would have allowed the school to pay for the trip, but the school says it had already made plans to go home:
---End of Update---
According to Demling, coach Rick Pitino was a bit frustrated with the decision the NCAA made.
Of course they can go, just not on anyone else's dime.
Those kids who aren't paid and are stringently tied to the compensation they can get can certainly go, if they pay for the trip themselves.
Now, letting them go on a free ride wouldn't be cool.
These are amateur kids who just got a ton of time off school to play a game they love. Continuing the party after the end of the tournament, albeit to support their fellow classmates, would be counter to the amateur ethic.
However, there is a great deal that isn't cool in respects to how the schools and NCAA benefit from these amateur athletes.
Sure, there are scholarships, basketball tutelage and exposure to NBA teams to consider as added benefits, but Louisville had no problem selling Kevin Ware inspired T-shirts and paraphernalia, benefiting from a student who injured himself in a horrible manner during the tournament.
Thanks for the broken leg, kid. Now we are going to hawk this stuff at $24.99; now get back to class.
To be fair, Adidas thought better of their Ware shirts and pumped the brakes. Still, the initial thought didn't really cause the school or the NCAA to stop and consider how they might be taking advantage of an amateur athlete, besides the usual ticket sales and concession-stand returns of games.
I agree that the students shouldn't be allowed a free trip, because they are merely amateurs and need to head back to class. Then again, that's not exactly the sentiment we just saw play out over the last few weeks.
So if we are trying to be fair and balanced, perhaps a quick jaunt to New Orleans for some kids who are carrying the load of a full class schedule as well as providing top-tier athletic entertainment might be warranted if coaches want to foot the bill.
Let's just be consistent.
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