NCAA Shows Their Priorities by Letting Brittney Griner Play

David LynnCorrespondent IApril 3, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - APRIL 02:  A detail picture of a Duke Blue Devils player during practice prior to the 2010 Final Four of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 2, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

This is one of the most exciting weekends in college sports. The Final Four is the culmination of one of the greatest postseasons in all of sports.

There are more exciting games in this three-week period than in most other seasons the rest of the year. Everyone loves hearing about the Cinderellas and how they beat the odds and beat the favorites.

I don’t even remember who won the championship the year that George Mason made it to the Final Four, but I certainly remember that they were there.

In contrast to the BCS, which almost no one is a fan of, the college basketball tournament is admired by most everyone. The pending expansion is another debate, but I am sure it will all work out in the end.

In the midst of this wonderful tournament, there is a story that has conveniently gotten overlooked. I am not usually one to focus on the negative, but this is something that I knew would happen when it first hit the news a couple weeks ago.

The big stories of the women’s NCAA tournament have been UConn’s historic win streak, and Brittney Griner’s amazing defensive abilities.

Griner was in the news a few weeks ago as well, but for very different reasons.

In a highly publicized incident, Griner punched a Texas Tech player in the face following a hard foul. Obviously, this was a completely stupid move, and there was a lot of speculation of what exactly the punishment would be.

The NCAA mandates a one-game suspension because the punch was considered a flagrant foul and she was ejected. Her coach added on one game to the suspension as well.

Plain and simple, it wasn’t enough.

There are varying opinions on how strict it should have been, but when you look at the situation, it is easy to see why the NCAA was as lenient as they were.

Brittney Griner is the single biggest player in women’s college basketball. She has amazing ability, and a bright future ahead of her. She can drop step dunk just like a pro.

Maybe her greatest ability is at blocking shots. She has already broken the tournament record for blocks, and she has at least one game left.

Sports fans have grown tired of hearing about UConn winning, because for two years, that has been the case. Despite it being one of the greatest runs in sports history, fans are looking for something new to get excited about.

Griner has become that person.

How could the NCAA possibly suspend their most noteworthy player on the eve of the tournament? It is not hard to see why they did it, but that doesn’t make it right.

I am sure she is a fine young woman who made a very poor judgment call in the heat of the moment, but when you make a bad decision, you need to pay a proper price.

Two games was a ridiculously mild suspension. If it was my call, I would have suspended her for the rest of the season, but the NCAA couldn’t afford to lose such a big name at such a big time.

What the NCAA did was once again show that making money is more important than doing what is right. Had it been some no-name player on a team that was not ranked, they would have gotten a much harsher penalty.

But because it was the biggest name in women’s college basketball on a contending team, they looked the other way and let her get by with relatively little punishment.

There was a time when college sports were about competition, but the NCAA has gone the way of the world and tossed aside what was once beautiful and exciting for what is now profitable.