By KEITH PEEL, Contributing Writer
NCAA Ruling on UNC Athletics: A Travesty Of Justice
Now that all the dust has settled from the UNC Athletic Department investigation and ultimately the NCAA Committee on Infractions findings it seems like an opportune time to discuss what the ramifications for other programs might be based on this decision.
First and foremost the NCAA has now given any college program that is interested a recipe for becoming competitive very quickly. Create a false department within the University, set up sham courses and make sure that your athletes sign up for those courses. Allow other students to also attend those classes so that you do not run afoul of the dreaded “impermissible benefits” guideline. Seems like a surefire way to add a few National Championship banners to your collection. So far it has worked well for North Carolina over the past eighteen years.
Beyond that though there are other ramifications from this decision that may not be immediately noticeable. First of all, the Committee stated “The NCAA defers to its member schools to determine whether academic fraud occurred and, ultimately, the panel is bound to making decisions within the rules set by the membership.”
Based on that language the NCAA should no longer be sending high school players through any clearinghouse activity to evaluate their academic standing in high school. No more investigators snooping around to see if high school students actually earned those grades or received them as a gift from their high school academic staff. After all, the NCAA defers to the member institutions to decide if academic fraud has been committed. Therefore if the member school qualifies the student as acceptable the NCAA should have no say in the matter.
To the issue of improper benefits to student athletes the Committee said no improper benefits were given to student athletes because members of the general student population could also participate. One would think Rick Pitino wishes his academic advisors at Louisville were as astute as the ones at UNC. If they had been both Pitino and Jurich would still be working for U of L.
Here’s why. During the Stripper/Prostitute scandal had Andrew McGee allowed some of the general student population and some prospective students to participate in the stripper parties it could not have been viewed by the NCAA Committee as anything other than good old entertainment for prospective and current athletes and current and incoming students. Kind of like a keg party at a fraternity house during rush week. Nothing wrong with that. Wink. Wink.
Another interesting result going forward could be that if a player is offered $100,000 to play for a school it is acceptable as long as you also pay a student in the general population the same amount to attend the school. Probably pick a student that had good grades in high school chemistry and math with a high SAT score to make it look legitimate. Wink. Wink.
When the NCAA Committee said no improper benefits were given due to the general student population participating in the UNC case it opened up a Pandora’s Box of possibilities for schools that want to be creative and could care less about the ethics of the situation. Schools with a mindset and ethical position similar to UNC’s.
In general – with the Committee on Infractions deciding to punt this one – the NCAA has created carte blanche for member institutions to creatively entice student-athletes to attend their school and continue to remain eligible by taking sham courses as they participate in athletics without any ramifications whatsoever. In effect the NCAA has finally revealed itself to be the “toothless old dog” that its previous rulings over the past few years have implied. It appears that ethics and morality – what’s innately right in any particular situation – has no bearing on what ruling will be handed down by the Committee. One more black-eye for college sports.
It would be nice if when a situation appears to be morally wrong the rules would be there to identify and correct the failure. It’s called justice. Unfortunately it doesn’t usually happen in the real world. It doesn’t seem to happen in the NCAA’s world either.
An attorney friend of mine once said “What is right and what is the law usually don’t come within waving distance of each other.” After this ruling it appears they do not even reside in the same hemisphere.