By Brendan Loy
Let’s review. USC’s football program allegedly allowed agents, proto-agents and/or runners to run rampant (I’ll ignore for the moment that this was not actually proven), and failed to monitor the activities of one “high-profile athlete” (two athletes counting O.J. Mayo, who played basketball, not football), or rather said athlete’s family. An assistant coach supposedly knew about the athlete’s family’s activities (again, we’ll ignore that this was not actually proven). For these crimes against amateurism, USC was hit with the “lack of institutional control” hammer, and suffered the most serious penalties in years, which were not reduced on appeal even after arguably more serious violations subsequently emerged at Ohio State and Auburn.
Meanwhile, in Chapel Hill… North Carolina’s football program allegedly allowed agents, proto-agents and/or runners to run rampant, and failed to monitor the activities of numerous rule-breaking players and of an assistant coach who was working for an agent… AND had massive academic fraud to boot, involving university employees and like a dozen players (all of whom played football, not basketball). Yet according to the NCAA, North Carolina did not lack institutional control, and is guilty only of the lesser charge of “failure to monitor.”
Is there any possible rationale for this, other than “it’s North Carolina football, who cares?” or “we’re the NCAA, we don’t heed no stinkin’ precedent!”? Can anyone come up with something else plausible, or even something implausible, that would even begin to rationally explain this unbelievable case of indefensibly disparate and discriminatory treatment? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
I’m not at all inclined to be a conspiracy theorist, like some of my fellow Trojans who think the NCAA is specifically out to get USC because — what? they’re jealous of us? why on earth would they hate USC?!? it makes no sense! — but this is pretty f***ing ridiculous. In fact, it’s gone beyond ridiculous. Auburn was ridiculous. Ohio State was ridiculous. This is criminal!
If North Carolina gets anything less than a two-year postseason ban and a 30-scholarship reduction (i.e., what USC got for indisputably less serious charges, which were only partially proven), USC should drop its post-Garrett nice-guy act and, as dcl keeps saying, sue the bastards… or set up a secret meeting with Texas, Notre Dame and a handful of other high-profile programs, to discuss secession from the corrupt, incompetent, hypocritical, unaccountable overlords of college sports otherwise known as the NCAA.
(Not that I actually want the secession scenario to happen; it would be terrible for the mid-majors, obviously, in both football and basketball. But for heaven’s sake, this is utterly absurd. Has any organization ever sacrificed as much credibility, through a series of unforced errors and nonsensical decisions, as the NCAA has in the last year or so? It’s beyond infuriating — and remember, I started out as a lone Trojan voice in the wilderness last summer, defending the NCAA’s penalties and saying we should take our medicine and stop whining. But subsequent events have proven that the NCAA’s critics were right, and I was wrong. The NCAA, or at least its enforcement arm, appears to be irredeemable — rotten to its core, incapable of doing its job in a reasonable or remotely fair fashion. So, what do we do? How do we blow up the NCAA without blowing up college sports?)
P.S. Upon reflection, I suppose my Grand Unified Theory of NCAA Inconsistency would go something like this:
1) The NCAA brought the hammer down on USC because the bureaucrats in power felt public pressure to “do something” and “show they were serious,” and they were all-too-happy to do so in USC’s case not because they’re OMG EAST COAST BIASED PAC-10 HATERZ, but because USC was perceived as thumbing its nose at the NCAA (even while formally cooperating in the investigation) by virtue of retaining Mike Garrett, hiring Lane Kiffin, etc. Basically, the NCAA — like all unaccountable bureaucratic entities tend to do — acted largely out of pique, with the “judge and jury” focused more on the notion that USC was not properly respecting their authoritah than on the actual facts of the case.
2) As subsequent cases (Auburn, Ohio State, North Carolina) emerged, the public pressure equation subtly changed. Pundits and casual observers started panicking — We can’t have all these major programs suffering USC-style sanctions or worse! We can’t have death penalties! — so the “do something” and “show seriousness” rationale faded somewhat, replaced by the notion that perhaps the NCAA’s amateurism rules themselves are the problem. Also, in the case of UNC, because the football program is so low-profile, nobody cared all that much.
3) Logically, the transition from #1 to #2 should have led to USC winning its appeal. But remember, these are unaccountable, and therefore (by virtue of human nature) corrupt, bureaucrats! They can’t admit they were wrong! That’s Rule #1 in the Unaccountable Corrupt Bureaucrat Handbook! So they stuck by their guns in the USC case, even while unilaterally disarming in the various other cases on their docket. And they defend this by saying, literally, that precedent doesn’t matter, because every case is unique. Did I mention they’re unaccountable and corrupt?
If you think about the NCAA more as a third-world kleptocracy than as a sports governing body, their decisions actually make a fair amount of sense.