clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NCAA = Dumpster Fire

For an organization tasked with overseeing collegiate “amateur” athletics, the stunning lack of professional intelligence on display is mind-boggling.

Thank goodness my 14 year-old son doesn’t answer to the NCAA.

On Friday morning he lied to me about brushing his teeth. A stern look and “excuse me” from Dad prompted his apology and return to the bathroom. There may have been a short “lecture” following this episode, but I will neither confirm nor deny that allegation.

Had the NCAA been involved in this situation I can only imagine the potential consequences:

  • Banned from using all electronics through his next birthday
  • Only one gift a year for the next three years and it can’t be something electronic

Based on the NCAA penalties against Dez Bryant in 2009 and to Oklahoma State’s men’s basketball program Friday, this would not be a stretch. It kind of reminds me of someone I used to know who had an anger management problem. It didn’t matter if you accidentally dumped a drink in his lap or you intentionally dumped a drink on his head, he exhibited the same ridiculously angry emotional reaction.

These two examples, along with a dumpster full of other willfully ignorant punishments or decisions on eligibility, clearly indicate that the NCAA has absolutely no idea what they are doing (or doesn’t care) and are utterly bereft of any concern for the impact these edicts have on the lives of collegiate scholar athletes.

The world of college sports is financed on the backs of football and basketball. Ticket sales, television, bowl games, March Madness, booster donations, etc fill the coffers of universities, athletic conferences, and the NCAA to the tune of billions of dollars annually. Individual schools utilize this revenue (ex: Kansas basketball) to support “non-revenue” producing sports (ex: Kansas football...just kidding...maybe), providing scholarship and competitive opportunities for all manner or scholar athletes. Revenue sharing via the NCAA and athletic conferences helps share some of the wealth with schools that don’t generate as much football and/or basketball revenue.

If billions of dollars are floating around you know various forms of corruption are going to be present, especially at the higher levels of competition. It’s been going on for almost a century. The opportunity to bring in millions in additional funding is a juicy enticement for colleges to turn a blind eye to a multitude of bad behaviors (ex: Baylor football and men’s basketball) in order to bring in the coaches and athletes necessary to climb the championship ladder. This brings more attention to the program and university, usually leading to increases in enrollment and alumni donations.

The NCAA is tasked with policing this behavior and minus some marquee cases has largely been horrible at it, with penalties almost never matching the infractions and generally being heavy handed. Add in the bizarre decisions made in several transfer eligibility cases and the organization that is supposed to be protecting the student athlete and the integrity of college sports is just another bloated administrative body focused on making money with little interest in fairly promoting opportunities for all college athletes.

NCAA members recently moved from a two-tier infraction structure to four-tiers referred to as “levels.” From ncaa.org:

While the examples of the NCAA’s idiotic behavior in handing out punishment for violations are many, let’s focus on two recent moments. One in football, the other basketball.

In 2017 this top tier, blue blood football program ran into the following issue (exact text from ncaa.org):

Violation Summary: A former ___________ assistant football coach acted unethically when he provided false or misleading information about impermissible recruiting contacts. The university also committed Level ____ recruiting violations when a second former assistant football coach had impermissible off-campus contact with a recruit during an evaluation period and members of the football staff impermissibly allowed a prospect’s youth football coach to attend a recruiting visit at the prospect’s home.

So an assistant coach lied to the NCAA about impermissible recruiting activity, and another assistant and staff were engaged in multiple incidents of impermissible recruiting activities.

Among the NCAA bylaws cited were:

  • Honesty and Sportsmanship
  • Unethical Conduct
  • Institutional Responsibility in Recruitment

While this is nothing major from a scandal standpoint, the mere fact that an assistant tried to cover it up raises the stakes. I would have thought this would merit a Level II violation status, but the NCAA decided to go with Level III for the University of Alabama.

The imposed penalties:

  • Television...nothing
  • Postseason...nothing
  • Probation...nothing
  • Reduction in Financial Aid (scholarships)...nothing
  • Recruiting...nothing
  • Vacation of record...nothing
  • Show Cause Penalty...Yes

Here’s the summary from ncaa.org:

The panel used the Division I membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to prescribe the following measures: Public reprimand and censure for the university; A two-year show-cause period for the former assistant coach from April 14, 2017, through April 13, 2019. During that period, any NCAA member school employing the former coach in an athletics role, including his current school, must restrict him for all off-campus recruiting activities and require him to attend NCAA Regional Rules Seminars in 2017 and 2018; A withholding of the former assistant coach and his replacement from off-campus recruiting and telephone contact for 39 days, from April 22 through May 31, 2016 (self-imposed by the university); The former assistant coach involved in a Level III violation was prohibited from participating in any off-campus recruiting for 30 days from Sept. 25, 2015, through Oct. 25, 2015, and suspended from one game during the 2015 football season (self-imposed by the university); A disassociation of the booster (self-imposed by the university); and a $5,000 fine (self-imposed by the university).

So in essence Alabama got nothing other than some self-imposed nonsense, almost like it never happened.

An OSU athlete lied to the NCAA once and it cost that football player the rest of his college career even though what he lied about was NOT an infraction.

We are all familiar with our second situation up for review. Oklahoma State’s former assistant basketball coach, Lamont Evans, was convicted in a court of law and given prison time for accepting bribes to steer players from two schools where he coached (South Carolina and OSU) to certain agents and financial advisors as those players transitioned from college to professional basketball. Evans was the ONLY member of either school’s staffs to be involved in the case. He came to OSU during the 2016-17 season under the previous head coach, Brad Underwood, who had worked with him while both were assistants at South Carolina. When Underwood left abruptly after one season the new head coach, Mike Boynton, kept Evans on staff for the 2017-18 season.

Cowboys’ starter Jeffrey Carrol was held out of competition for a short period of time (four games) until he was cleared of any impermissible activity. No other player or staff member from this program was implicated, including three current head coaches for whom the assistant had worked. Evans was fired within 72 hours of OSU learning about the allegations prior to the beginning of the 2017-18 season.

While NCAA investigation was ongoing, Oklahoma State did learn about the following findings:

  • NCAA determined [the assistant] acted alone and for his own personal gain
  • NCAA determined [the university] did not benefit in recruiting or commit a recruiting violation
  • NCAA determined [the university] did not play an ineligible player
  • NCAA determined [the university] did not display a lack of institutional control

OSU imposed its own punishment with fines and a reduced number of recruiting “official visits” for three years.

The NCAA slapped the assistant with a significant “Show Cause” penalty which was warranted and could have been worse.

So at this point everybody is clean and good to go, right? Seems like a reasonable ending based on the facts. Should merit a Level III violation at most as the school literally did nothing wrong and still imposed some penalties on itself, never mind we are three-plus years removed from the incident. Why would the NCAA do anything harsh three years after the fact, adversely impacting athletes and a young, first time head coach who were not involved and appear to be doing everything the right way for a program that apparently did nothing wrong except hire the wrong guy for one season under the previous head coach and gained no apparent benefit from it?

Here’s what the NCAA decided to impose on the university:

  • Television...nothing
  • Postseason...1 year ban
  • Probation...3 years
  • Reduction in Financial Aid...3 seasons, 3 scholarships per season
  • Recruiting...various recruiting limitations during probation
  • Show Cause Penalty...yes (this was exclusively against the assistant involved)
  • Vacation of Record...nothing

Just wow.

OSU is the first of a number of programs involved in this case to receive punishment. The university will appeal the decision and there should be a fairly quick resolution to that, but I still wouldn’t hold your breath. If you think an institution that is devoid of common sense or reason is going to suddenly say “Oh, right, that was way too harsh and we’re sorry and we take it all back” then I’ve got some swamp land to sell you. This is an organization that is not shy about taking away scholarship opportunities for scholar athletes in order to punish universities, and keep in mind that rarely happens to the “blue blood” programs. If the NCAA cared about the kids they would leave the scholarships in place but ban postseason, TV, and limit recruiting. Worst case there is still a student-athlete getting an education.

If the penalty withstands the appeal the Cowboys will likely lose at least their prize #1 recruit and possibly more. OSU was definitely a program showing signs of life and is getting the rug jerked out from under it for no good reason.

Seriously, where are the violations? Where is the statement that says “Oklahoma State University committed these acts so egregious that the NCAA must damage the program for three years in order to protect the integrity of the game.” It’s as if OSU is being punished merely for having employed Evans, even though he apparently did nothing in this scheme to assist the school in any way. South Carolina is in a similar situation although they did have a specific player mentioned. Kansas basketball is another of many schools involved in this wide-ranging scandal and the allegations extend pretty heavily into recruiting with the NCAA citing at least three Level I violations. This quote in a New York Times article from Oklahoma State AD Mike Holder says it all:

The Cowboys were an integral part of the death of the BCS. Maybe they can be a part of skewering the NCAA, an institution so hypocritically obtuse to its own incompetence and corruption that it can’t see its own lack of institutional control.