The recent release of information made public in the Florida State cheating scandal brings to light yet another fallacy in the way the NCAA legislates with regard to its member institutions. Of course, we would never have known about the illogical processes the NCAA uses if not for a lawsuit forcing them to release the information to begin with, which they fought all the way.
The long and short of it is this: Florida State is being punished for athletes cheating in classes. FSU self-reported the violations to the NCAA once they were aware of them and proposed sanctions of their own, including player suspensions and the loss of some scholarships.
Where the NCAA overstepped its bounds—once again—is that, while they agreed with the findings and self-imposed penalties, they also decided to take away wins in 10 different sports, including 14 of them in football.
Now, I am not defending FSU in this case. They were wrong and should be punished. But the NCAA's justification for taking the wins away is where they err. According to the NCAA, student athletes found to have committed rules violations are to be considered ineligible from the moment that violations occur whether or not the university is aware if them.
Excuse me? How in the world can a school know to suspend a player if they are not aware of any transgression until after the fact? Should they just start arbitrarily suspending players—sort of a pre-emptive suspension—just in case the athlete was thinking about possibly violating some rule? Does this sound ridiculous to anyone else?
The NCAA has its critics, to be sure. And it is rules like this that make the case against them even more convincing. Rules like this that apparently have never even been discussed with member institutions.
According to ACC associate commissioner Shane Lyons, "This has never been discussed with the [NCAA] membership. I don't think the membership has been applying it that way."
So now universities are supposed to be applying rules that they are not even aware of in the first place? Figuring out what does and does not constitute an NCAA violation is hard enough when you do know the rules.
Apparently, university officials must now become psychic in an effort to police their schools more efficiently. Precognition was not in the job description when they took office, I am sure.
While the NCAA has already shown a willingness to break its own rules in an effort to prosecute member institutions—see pretty much all cases against Alabama since 1993—now they are telling schools that they must not only be proactive to stop violations from occurring but also have to find a way to retroactively suspend athletes once they do become aware of violations.
And you thought it was tough to follow the rules before.