There are two sides to every story, as the saying goes.
By now, everyone is familiar with the infractions for which Syracuse is being punished. There are accusations of academic fraud, failure to monitor, circumventing the school drug policy and improper benefits. All of this as the result of an eight-year long investigation by the NCAA.
Since then, there has been much outrage expressed by national media. Pat Forde from Yahoo Sports has called for Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim to be fired. Pete Thamel from Sports Illustrated and the Associated Press have joined Forde in his call. Keith Olbermann called Syracuse chancellor Kent Syverud the “world’s worst person in sports,” an award he gives out every day during his show on ESPN.
So why such outrage for Syracuse Athletics and those involved in the NCAA’s wrath? At this point, only one side of the story has been presented. Yes Syracuse could publically detail their perception of things, but that would hinder an appeals process that should be starting in the coming weeks.
Not only has only one side been represented, but the organization that has outlined that one side is hardly one that can be trusted. The same media that is ripping Syracuse, Jim Boeheim, Daryl Gross and Kent Syverud now are largely the same people who rip the NCAA as being a corrupt, fraudulent institution.
Just look at some recent examples. The investigation into Miami football was filled with less than honorable behavior. The NCAA admitted to unethical conduct, most notably paying witnesses for information. As a result, the NCAA fired multiple people involved with the investigation. Subsequently, the new NCAA appointee to handling the case against Miami was accused of similar conduct.
The result was NCAA president Mark Emmert launching an investigation into their own investigation techniques and practices.
”The conversation came to light in an email from an attorney who said she was seated behind a man who was speaking loudly about the work of his girlfriend, an ‘attorney with the NCAA.’
”The girlfriend, whom he identified as ‘Abigail,’ was investigating Muhammad. The man made it clear that the NCAA would find Muhammad ineligible and not allow him to play this season, the email said. Abigail Grantstein, an assistant director of enforcement, is the NCAA's lead investigator on the Muhammad case.”
But it doesn't end there. Another well-known case of academic fraud, still currently being investigated, is surrounding North Carolina University. The issues here surround student-athletes taking fake classes as directed by academic advisors in order to keep them eligible to play. This was found to be the case over nearly two decades over multiple athletic programs.
As alarming as that is, perhaps even more interesting is that the NCAA originally deemed these “paper classes” as having not broken any NCAA rules. It was subsequent to that when former attorney prosecutor Ken Wainstein performed a private investigation as hired by the university. What he found was almost unbelievable.
”According to the report, more than 3,100 students received irregular instruction in African and Afro-American studies paper classes, where students would not have to attend class or complete any assignments, except one — a paper due at the end of the semester that Crowder, a non-faculty member, would grade extremely leniently.”
The NCAA originally found these courses to be acceptable upon their initial review. After Wainstein’s report was released, the NCAA reopened their case against North Carolina.
That is three very recent examples where the NCAA’s investigations were not done correctly. Whether it was improper investigation tactics, pre-determined outcome or not finding something that seemed to be easily discovered upon investigation by an outside party.
It is for those kind of reasons that many the NCAA is a broken organization. And yet, when they release a report on their investigation into Syracuse, which they admit took far too long, many of those same individuals are immediately torching Syracuse, Jim Boeheim and others within the university.
Yet know, the report is taken as 100% truth and large conclusions drawn from it. How can such blind trust be placed into an organization that has conducted itself as outlined above with such error, corruption and prejudice?
That is not to say that Syracuse is not culpable at all in this situation. In fact, the university itself has admitted to wrong doings. There are plenty of damning statements within the report. There is plenty of direct evidence that Syracuse did things against NCAA protocol.
But an open mind is necessary.
In a 24/7 news cycle where clicks and ratings are the number one goal above any sort of rational thought, it is time to take a step back. Wait to get the whole story before completely formulating an opinion. Be open to new evidence or alternate perspectives that shed new light on situations. Be wary of “click bait” and outlandish takes for the sake of attention and reaction.
An example happened as recently as Saturday. When Jim Boeheim did not appear for the press conference after Syracuse’s loss to NC State, there was a lot of immediate backlash. Then, Brent Axe of Syracuse Media Group reported that Boeheim was instructed by a superior not to conduct said post-game presser.
That revelation changed the thoughts of some, though admittedly not all. But the new information changed the original perspective.
It is entirely possible that after Syracuse and Jim Boeheim air their complete side of things that the opinion of many members of the national media, members of the local media, the Syracuse fan base and the general public will not change.
With the seemingly clear evidence that some players were paid by the YMCA, including a recent admission by former quarterback Perry Patterson that he did receive funds, it is easy to make a judgment on the NCAA ruling.
But what if evidence comes out to suggest that Boeheim was not aware of the YMCA payments, academic improprieties or other infractions? Does that change the perspective on him in this case? Even with the head coach being ultimately responsible, there is a difference between direct involvement and misplaced trust.
Given the NCAA’s track record, patience to hear both sides seems like a reasonable course of action.