NCAA Strikes Again

Once again the NCAA has tried to appear to come down hard on a school for rules breaking without actually doing anything that hurts. The governing body of college sports hit Alabama with three years probation for a book selling scheme that puts thousands of dollars of illegal benefits into the hands of scores of Alabama student-athletes.

The scheme was so widespread that it involved 201 students in 16 sports --- that's ALL the sports.

One would assume that such illegal activities giving extra benefits to student athletes would be dealt with harshly, right? Well one would be wrong.

The NCAA has handed ‘Bama no meaningful sanctions in this case, but is instead ordering the forfeiture of all games in which seven football players participated. Only football is signaled out because the seven players averaged more than $3,000 in profits from buying excess books with their scholarship and taking cash from other students. Even if you're making $60 bucks a book that's a lot of books.

Forfeiture remains the dumbest of all penalties because it falsifies records books, confuses realities and serves as neither as punishment or a deterrent to others. And don't take my word for it. Look at what Alabama Football Coach Nick Saban had to say in reaction to the NCAA ruling.

"We're always happy to move on and we're looking forward to the future and are excited about the things we can accomplish," Saban said. "I don't think this is going to affect the vision of the program or the student-athletes in the program or that we're recruiting."

What would have punished Alabama and served as a warning to other schools to more closely monitor its student athletes would be scholarship reductions and post-season bans. The NCAA as usual chose to do neither. Since seven Alabama football players were the largest culprits in a three year pattern of gaining illegal benefits let's use that number for some meaningful sanctions.

Alabama gets seven fewer initial grants in all (18 instead of 25) for the next three years. Additionally the program will have seven fewer total scholarships (78 instead of 85) for that period. The school's publications will also note in bold type that the wins during this period were attained in part by the use of ineligible players. They will continue to do so for the length of the probationary period.

Those are my sanctions in this case. I don't think this warrants a post-season ban but it comes close. I would suspect some compliance officer will also be hitting the unemployment line for the lack of oversight.

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Meanwhile Florida State goes on with its secret correspondence with the NCAA over its appeal of 14 forfeitures that would come off Bobby Bowden's coaching victory total. While no one is saying what the NCAA told the school it's safe to say that desire to go private stems from the realization that the school is not happy with the result.


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