Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; Mar. 3

A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning...

Considering its ongoing run of bad luck in the court system, the only thing missing at the entranceway to NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis is this quote from the comic strip Pogo: “We have met the enemy and they is us.”

This is the same NCAA which could have settled years before but chose to fight Ed O’Bannon (dumb) only to get hosed; the same NCAA that got smoked in court by a group of Northwestern University football players who want to unionize; and the same NCAA that came within a whisker of handing Penn State the death penalty for football before implementing some of the harshest sanctions ever only to rescind the sanctions.

This is the same NCAA which sets minimum academic standards for a high school kid who wants to sign a scholarship and play a sport, the same one that penalizes schools that don’t graduate a high enough percentage of its athletes and sets a 20-hour standard per week for athletes (practice and games when school is in session) to prevent their exploitation.

Okay, now that we’ve established just a handful of the NCAA’s rules and blunders, you better brace yourself for this.

This same NCAA that has done all that is now claiming it has “no legal responsibility” for any academic fraud that might have taken place at the University of North Carolina, which, you may recall, sent athletes to bogus classes in the Department of African-American Studies for more than 18 years. This is in response to a lawsuit filed in North Carolina state court by former UNC women’s basketball player Rashanda McCants and former football player Devon Ramsey, accusing the NCAA of negligence because academic fraud had taken place at member institutions during the past 100 years and the NCAA failed to implement adequate monitoring systems.

Perhaps there is legal precedent on the side of the NCAA because the organization can set the guidelines but it’s up to each individual school to comply, so there is that possibility the lawsuit by McCants and Ramsey will get tossed out of court. But whether the suit survives or gets moved to federal court, the NCAA is going to come out the loser once again when it comes to perception. Most people aren’t going to hear the word “legal.” They’re going to hear “no responsibility” and that is not going to resonate well with public opinion, particularly since the organization can – and certainly will – impose sanctions on the UNC athletic program for failure to monitor.

For way too long the NCAA chose to flex its muscles, often appearing to pick and choose who it went after and sanctioned. After all these years of the NCAA showing off its power, there is very little sympathy now that one court case after another is ruled in favor of plaintiffs intent on bringing the organization to its knees. The image is tarnished to the point that it is questionable whether anything can be done to revive it. There is something to be said about proposals

for the power schools to lead the way and start the exodus from the NCAA to a new organization that will streamline the rules and go about business fairly instead of with the heavy hand of the past.

GATORS IN THE RANKINGS

Softball: #1
Baseball: #2USAToday; D1 Baseball top 25; #3 NCBW; #5 Collegiate Baseball; #4 Baseball America
Gymnastics: #3
Women’s Lacrosse: #4
Women’s Tennis: #3
Men’s Tennis: #17
Men’s Indoors Track: #1
Women’s Indoor Track: #3

Mike Slive ON FRESHMAN ELIGIBILITY

Jim Delaney (Big Ten) and Jim Swofford (ACC) are among the conference commissioners who have been calling for a return to freshman ineligibility. It’s a proposal designed mostly to affect one-and-done players in basketball. SEC commissioner Mike Slive feels the proposal is designed to slow down Kentucky, which has had great success with what can best be described as a rent-a-player system.

In a Sporting News interview, Slive said, “If the proposal is about student-athletes turning professional, we need to be careful not to create rules for a few that penalize the many. The universe of student-athletes who leave early for professional sports is very small compared to the numbers that participate in football and men’s basketball. And just because a student-athlete enters professional sports does not mean he or she has totally abandoned their academic pursuits.”

MJ MAKES THE BILLIONAIRE’S LIST

One of the newest members of the Forbes billionaires list is Michael Jordan, owner of the NBA Charlotte Hornets and the first former professional athlete to reach a net worth of ten figures. A billion dollars might not go nearly as far as it used to, but it’s still a lot of money although it pales in comparison to the $21.5 billion fortune of Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer or the $17.5 billion fortune of Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen. Jordan’s fortune ranks him as the 1,741st wealthiest person in the world.

A few other pro sports owners, their net worth and world rank among billionaires: Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavericks, $3 billion, #603); Stephen Ross (Miami Dolphins, $6.5 billion, #216); Robert Kraft (New England Patriots, $4.3 billion, #381) and Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys, $4.2 billion, #393).

THE SILENCE IS DEAFENING AT Duke

A little more than a month after Rasheed Sulaimon was dismissed from the Duke basketball team there are reports that Sulaimon was accused of sexually assaulting two women during the 2013-14 academic year. According to the student newspaper – The Duke Chronicle – Duke coach Mike Kryzyzewski was aware of the allegations all the way back in March of 2014, which is a full 10 months before Sulaimon became the first player ever dismissed from the team by Coach K. When Sulaimon was dismissed from the team Coach K commented that his player failed to meet the obligations of playing basketball at Duke but there was no mention of any investigation into sexual assault allegations.

Monday, when confronted more than once in a teleconference call regarding when he knew about the accusations and why it took so long to dismiss Sulaimon from the team, Coach K responded by saying, “I don’t have any comment about that.”

Was Coach K simply protecting the privacy of Sulaimon or covering for the fact that he knew about the accusations way back when and waited months before taking any action? The silence is deafening.

MATT HAYES RANKS THE 10 BEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL PROGRAMS

That Matt Hayes, the outstanding college football editor at The Sporting News, would rank Ohio State the #1 college football program in the country really shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, the Buckeyes are 36-3 in the last three seasons and winners of the first college football playoff with impressive wins over Alabama and Oregon. What has to be a shock is that Hayes considers Alabama only the seventh best program in the country.

Hayes ranks Florida #5 and says the Gator would have been ranked #1 a couple of years ago but the facilities got old and the program went south the last two seasons under Will Muschamp. While he gives UF credit for building an indoor practice facility, Hayes notes, “The upgrades can’t stop there – especially considering what’s going on in the rest of the SEC.”

1. Ohio State
2. Texas
3. Southern Cal
4. LSU
5. Florida
6. Michigan
7. Alabama
8. Florida State
9. Oregon
10. Notre Dame

QUESTION OF THE DAY

How would you rank the top 10 college football programs for facilities, performance and potential?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

Alabama Shakes will release their new album “Sound and Color” on April 21. One of the featured songs will be “Gimme All Your Love,” which was performed on Saturday Night Live. This is a band that could have a prominent role on the blues and alternative music scenes the next few years if the songwriting team of Britaany Howard (vocals, lead guitar) and Zac Cockrell (bass) stick together.


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