William Geoghegan is a native Louisvillian and a sophomore journalism major at the University of Dayton. William is the Sports Editor of the UD Flyer News and a Friend of ITV.
NCAA has lost vision and purpose
Ever chased something so far and for so long that you unknowingly turn a blind eye to your purpose?
The NCAA has.
In fact, the governing body of collegiate athletics seems to do it quite frequently.
What are they chasing?
Perhaps it's some elusive ideal of amateurism that the organization clings to in a time when big-time college athletics toe—and sometimes cross—the line of amateurism every day.
Maybe it's the "bad guys" they're chasing. The ones who do cross that line.
But all too often, what the NCAA seems to be in hottest pursuit of are the student-athletes themselves.
And that's where the NCAA loses its vision and its purpose. That's where everybody involved loses.
Marvin Stone doesn't deserve this fate.
It's a fate that is still up in the air, but when it shakes out, chances are, it won't be good.
And if the NCAA has its way, Stone may not even see the end of the season.
That's how it seems at least. The NCAA is so tight-lipped, sometimes rightfully so, that it won't reveal anything about its investigation of Stone.
But what the public sees, what they can only conclude is that the investigation of Stone looks like a witch hunt.
In short, the NCAA recommended to the university a suspension of Stone while they established whether his former AAU coach could be considered a family-friend. If he was a family friend then the so-called illegal benefits that Stone received from him—one of which was borrowing the man's car because his own broke down—would be considered legal. The NCAA concluded that he was indeed a family friend and cleared Stone. But just a few days later, the NCAA began investigating transfers of money through Western Union that Stone received from family members. The NCAA thought they had Stone cold when they found a transfer of $400 to Stone that went from Louisville to Atlanta. It turned out that it was another Marvin Stone, just an average man in Atlanta who fell victim to a strange coincidence. But the NCAA still wants Stone to sit. Maybe by the time this is printed, Stone will be cleared.
Even if he is cleared, it doesn't change the facts about the NCAA and its vigilante attitude. There are numerous other situations, and this season it seems a new investigation begins daily.
Some are warranted, like the investigation into illegal benefits that the "Fab Five" received at Michigan and the inquiry into possible academic fraud and illegal benefits at Georgia. So too is the investigation that likely faces Florida State with former quarterback Adrian McPherson and an FSU equipment manager being accused of gambling.
But when the NCAA focuses on the smaller transgressions, based on rules that often hurt the players more than they help, that's when the NCAA loses sight of its ultimate purposes.
Why the NCAA is investigating Stone now, in his final weeks as a college basketball player, is difficult to comprehend.
Sure, it's understandable that the NCAA doesn't want an ineligible player leading his team to great heights in the Big Dance.
The organization can't turn a blind eye because that would be doubly hypocritical. But on this issue, which on the surface appears to be as petty as they come, can't they give a player the benefit of the doubt? Something that happened so long ago, something that is so trivial shouldn't make an athlete ineligible. Academic fraud, yes. Gambling, yes. But a ride, no way.
A ride does qualify as a violation of amateur status, but this is the kind of situation where the NCAA goes blind, where it gets lost.
One of the NCAA's four core values is this: "We are committed to protecting the best interest of student-athletes."
So apparently, the best interest of Marvin Stone is pulling his playing career out from under him, in its final days no less.
The NCAA seems to be a mess of contradictions. The biggest of which are these seemingly competing ideals—to uphold the ideals of amateurism and to at the same time protect the best interests of its student athletes.
In this day and age, it sometimes seems impossible for these issues to be intertwined toward the same purpose—to find the perfect balance between doing the right thing and doing the right thing.
So, in the end, we are left wondering what all this was for. Why did the NCAA rob a player of his final few games? Why did they steal his chance and his team's chance at glory? Apparently they did it to protect amateurism. They turned that blind eye, only this time, they did it to that pesky concept of an athlete's best interests.
We are left to conclude that the NCAA can't see the hypocrisy of its own organization.
Maybe they do see it. But they are so deep into their maze of complicated rules and issues, so caught up in their pursuit of an ideal that they can't step out now.
All we see, though, is that the NCAA appears to be blind.
Blinded by its own rules.
Blinded by a quest to restore a tarnished image.
Blinded by a light—a now-fading light of a romantic notion of amateurism and a pledge to keep an athlete's best interests at heart.
But nobody deserves that blind eye. Not Marvin Stone, not any single issue and not the NCAA itself.
If they could only open that eye, just for a second, maybe things would be different.