NCAA Can't Be Capricious in Rulings, Must Give Closure to USC and Miami
Somewhere out of the deep blue sea this week, the NCAA sprung into action and announced that it would reduce the scholarship sanctions it set on Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
College football's fickle governing body decided that it was perhaps a bit too harsh on PSU and that the university and football program were making strides in the right direction since the incident. As a result of the NCAA's sudden notion, the Nittany Lions will receive a gradual scholarship bump from 65 to 75 scholarships in 2014, then to 80 in 2015 and a full 85 in 2016.
According to ESPN's report, NCAA president Mark Emmert said more reductions, including on PSU's four-year postseason ban, could be considered as soon as next year.
In other words, the NCAA will do what it wants, whenever it pleases.
That seems to be how the NCAA makes decisions these days.
While it rose up from its headquarters in Indianapolis to make this decree, it still hasn't made a ruling in the case of Miami, which now dates back two full years to August of 2011 when the original Yahoo! Sports report came out against booster Nevin Shapiro.
The Hurricanes are riding out the season, still undefeated through Week 4 and looking to contend for the ACC title, not knowing if the NCAA will drop the hammer and rule them ineligible for the postseason between now and season's end.
The process regarding the university in Coral Gables, Fla. has resembled Cirque du Soleil more than a serious investigation.
While the NCAA can make a swift ruling on the Penn State case, it decided to make Miami wait for its ruling, even though the governing body already admitted prior missteps during the investigation. In January, the NCAA admitted that it improperly obtained information during the investigation, prompting Miami president Donna Shalala to call for the case to be dropped entirely.
Instead of agreeing to Shalala's request, the NCAA decided that it would just make the Hurricanes wait indefinitely for the ruling, leaving coaches to recruit players without knowing their potential scholarship limits or if the players will be able to go to a bowl game.
While the Miami case remains a static ball of potential energy, the NCAA is also dealing with requests from USC. The Trojans have been under sanctions, including scholarship and roster limits and postseason bans, since 2010.
Upon the NCAA's ruling with Penn State, USC athletic director Pat Haden spent two days courting the NCAA in hopes that his program would receive a reduction as well.
Of course, there has been no official response from the NCAA.
Though ESPN's Joe Schad reported that, according to his source, it is "unlikely" that USC will receive a reduction; the NCAA is just going to make the Trojans sweat it out. USC's penalty is in its last year, as the 2014 recruiting class will be its last with reduced scholarships and 2014 will be its final year under a 75-man roster ceiling.
The decision regarding USC should, theoretically, be relatively easy, considering the limited time left when compared to Penn State's sanction—but not for the NCAA.
Meanwhile, Miami remains ambiguously adrift.
At this point, the NCAA should consider how long it has made Miami wait as a part of its sanction, but putting that into consideration might just make the process take even longer.
On second thought, the NCAA just needs to make a decision, one way or another.
Whimsicality might be an acceptable trait in a 19-year-old college student who just can't seem to decide on a major, but it isn't acceptable in the governing body of collegiate athletics.
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