In his press conference prior to the start of the NCAA Final Four, Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, voiced his concern for the state of collegiate athletics.
As reported by ESPN.com’s Pat Forde, http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/news/story?id=6278344, Emmert is quoted as saying: "Like it or not, the things that are wrong often wind up being highlighted. That's not a shot at the media; that's just the way the world works. We need to, therefore, make sure that people understand if there are things that are awry, we will put them right."
I am uncertain whom those people are that Emmert mentioned. I would suggest that the people in question should be those who staff the NCAA.
First and foremost, before he can clean up collegiate athletics, Emmert must clean up his own house.
The way the NCAA investigates violations and the way it reports and punishes those violations are completely arbitrary. There is little or no concern for previous precedents or even their own bylaws.
It would seem to this writer that the decisions in the Cam Newton and recent Ohio State cases came within a few days, not months, of investigation. The NCAA even reversed its decision on Newton within 24 hours.
And that is not all the NCAA reversed in the Newton case. For years, the belief was that if parents solicited money for their son’s or daughter’s commitment to a collegiate program, guilt extended to athlete as well.
But in the Newton case, the investigators merely accepted the Auburn quarterback’s word that he had no idea that his father, Cecil Newton, had solicited $180,000 for his son’s commitment to Mississippi State.
In the Ohio State case, five players who should have been ineligible for the entire 2010 season were allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl. Why? Money, of course. Bowl money. Money to Ohio State, money to Arkansas, money to the Big Ten and the SEC and a lot more money from TV revenues than they would have received if those five players, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, had not played.
Again, it's an arbitrary decision that smacked of profit rather than precedent.
"We cannot have coaches, administrators, parents or student-athletes sitting out there deciding: 'Is this worth the risk? If I conduct myself in this fashion and I get caught, it's still worth the risk,'" Emmert was quoted as saying. "We don't want those kinds of cost-benefit analyses going on."
But it seems as though it's fine for the NCAA’s very own staffers to make such decisions, as in the case of the recent sanctions placed on USC after some four years of investigation.
In that case, the investigators obviously acted with prejudice. They were not very fond of former head coach Pete Carroll’s youthful, upbeat attitude and practices that were open to the public. Heck, that should only be a favor for rich boosters, not neighborhood folks from South Central L.A.
They also didn’t like his arrogant attitude toward the BCS system. Didn’t Carroll know that a head coach must bow down and kowtow before the computer gods?
Speaking of arrogance, what really irked them was Mike Garrett. His "they’re all jealous of USC" attitude was more than even some USC fans could take.
But let’s face it, there is absolutely no NCAA bylaw against arrogance.
So, a one-year bowl ban and the loss of perhaps two or three scholarships over two years would have been in line with the committee’s findings that only one football player, Reggie Bush and his family had received illegal benefits.
The investigators instead decided to impose a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over three years. Is it excessive?
Just a little. But more importantly, where was the transparency in how the investigators arrived at such a ludicrous punishment? Even more ludicrous is the fact that it has been ten weeks since USC presented its appeal of those sanctions. Normally, an appeal decision is reached in four to six weeks.
Normally. But as we are quickly discovering, there is nothing normal about the NCAA. It is about as transparent as three-foot block of concrete.
If Emmert is really serious about his call for transparency, he will make sure that USC immediately receives reasons for the delay and, upon a final ruling, discovers how each member of the committee voted.
Hey, Mark, if the Supreme Court and lower state courts can do it, why not the NCAA?
Could it be that, in this case, staffers will not be able to cover their backsides?
You had better face it, Mark. College football fans don’t want your concern, we want transparency.