NCAA Ruling Hard To Comprehend

An organization thought to be incompetent and/or corrupt could hardly be expected to provide reasonable or believable defense. If incompetent it could not and if corrupt it would not. That it would be considered both, and sponsored by higher education, is just short of incomprehensible, but not short of reprehensible.

Who defends the NCAA today? Certainly not Alabama, which suffered unprecedented penalties at the hands of an organization that did not attempt to hide its prejudice against a member institution with a long record of compliance. Instead, the NCAA broke its own rules in pursuit of a conviction against Alabama. The organization used what we have since learned was certainly questionable testimony from Tennessee Coach Phil Fulmer, who had a dog in a fight he could not win on a level playing field.

Georgia? The Bulldogs star receiver, A.J. Green, was sentenced to an immediate -- repeat, immediate -- four-game suspension for selling a jersey.

Perhaps Auburn, if the memories are only a month or so old. Go back over the past 50 years and Auburn has one of the most corrupt programs in college football history and has frequently been penalized by the NCAA.

It is time to revisit the question of "NCAA: Incompetent? Corrupt? Both?" in light of the decision this week regarding Ohio State.

(The NCAA piously proclaims that it is its member institutions, but our reference is to the paid staff and the chairmen and members of many committees.)

In broad terms, five Ohio State football players, including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, have been selling all manner of items they have received because they are Buckeyes. They were also guilty (as admitted by Ohio State) of trading on their status as college athletes for extra benefits. (And these benefits were not schoolbooks, which resulted in hefty penalties for Alabama a few years ago. They were for tattoos.) Extra benefits for the players go back for two years for some.

There is no Solomon in NCAA. The NCAA said the players (unlike Georgia's Green) will have justice delayed, and perhaps never served. The four who received the stiffest penalties of missing the first five games (Akron, Toledo, Miami, Colorado and Michigan State) are juniors. A freshman will miss one game. One or more of the juniors may very well be playing in the NFL next year.

The NCAA reasoning? Get ready for it.

They didn't know. That's it.

Have you heard this before (not including post-Nazi Germany)?

Indeed, some Ohio State apologists are saying that the Big Ten doesn't get preferential treatment. It's the same ruling that Auburn got for Cam Newton, whose father was shopping him around.

In the Newton case, the NCAA ruled that Cam Newton didn't know his father. Well, no, that's not what they ruled. They ruled that Cam didn't know his father was shopping him around, didn't explain to Cam that he couldn't go to Mississippi State where he had said he wanted to play, but that he had to go to Auburn because it was, what?, closer to home. And we're to believe that Cam wouldn't have benefited if his father had received perhaps several hundred thousand dollars for his son's services. And presumably we're to believe that Mississippi State is the only school that got the Father Newton proposal.

Everyone who believes any of that can expect the Easter Bunny to accompany Santa on his rounds tonight. Rest assured, 11 Southeastern Conference teams and many other conferences and teams did not agree with the Newton ruling.

This is not the first time for Ohio State to skate. We always enjoy retelling an NCAA favorite. Former Ohio State star Maurice Clarett and OSU admitted that he received thousands of dollars in impermissible benefits and there were also allegations of academic fraud. The NCAA never investigated the matter.

An NCAA statement that tops even "Didn't know" was that they had been unable to investigate the matter because Clarett had not returned their phone calls.

As we have pointed out, Clarett spent several years in prison in Ohio and if NCAA investigators had taken him a carton of cigarettes he would have been singing like a canary.

Ohio State is not the only beneficiary of NCAA character failings.

There has been at least one case of a quarterback leading his team to the National Championship while under a cloud of suspicion. Tee Martin of Mobile got the job done for Tennessee. When it was revealed he was receiving cash from a woman whose husband and son had attended Tennessee, and who also went to Tennessee games, the NCAA took the word of UT Athletics Director Doug Dickey and SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer (who would later be revealed to have been complicit with Fulmer against Alabama) that there was nothing amiss with the Martin situation.

But don't expect Tennessee to be feeling too kindly about the NCAA right now. The Vols are almost certainly about to be hammered.

Or how about Notre Dame? A woman who was a member of the South Bend Quarterback Club embezzled money and lavished favors (including the favor of becoming pregnant) on Notre Dame football players. The NCAA determined she wasn't a Notre Dame booster. The problem was the South Bend Quarterback Club, which had to be disbanded.

In a rare move, the NCAA punished USC for Reggie Bush living in a mansion with his family. (It didn't occur to Bush to say he didn't know it was provided by an agent, or he would have been off scot free.) Almost everyone believes that the NCAA was forced to finally act because of the volume of media reports on the violations.

So why would there be favoritism towards the Pac-10, the Big Ten, and Notre Dame? A few decades ago there was a move afoot to have the major football conferences form a College Football Association. The Pac-10 and the Big Ten, which had the lucrative Rose Bowl arrangement, failed to come aboard, as did Notre Dame, and the NCAA was saved.

Incompetent? Corrupt? Both??

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