Continuing my incessant harassment of that so-called bastion of fair play and ethics also known as the NCAA, I read this morning a piece by Jay Bilas on ESPN's Insider series concerning calling John Wooden a cheater.That's right folks, Bilas points out that if you are going to use literal logic when dealing with the NCAA and it's so-called "standards" that John Wooden cheated at UCLA. This is a pay article which really bothered me, but I will give you a few blurbs to show you the gist of what he says.
Now before I hear from the "don't speak ill of the dead" crowd, I want to point out that Wooden is not the focus of this article by any stretch of the imagination. Moreover, the point is simply that in today's world, much the same way as it was in the days when Wooden strolled the sidelines and earned the title of "The Wizard of Westwood" , the NCAA is a joke. Their "standards" are nothing more than a public face for people to debate and look at while the association functions as their own version of the mafia. They make up the rules as they go, enforce them on whom they choose, and whatever happens, happens. The fact that Bilas recognizes this and is willing to publicly make his disdain available simply adds another voice of reason to the discussion. I do not always agree with Bilas nor his conclusions, but here he hits the nail on the head. Let me give you a few highlights:
If we are willing to call USC a cheater based upon certain evidence, are we therefore required to call UCLA a cheater? If so, how do we process the allegations against UConn, UMass in the Marcus Camby matter, and Memphis in the Derrick Rose matter?
What are we to do indeed? And furthermore, how does one base their assessment of John Calipari as a "cheater"?
NCAA Bylaw 220.127.116.11 requires the Committee on Infractions to find a violation of the rules only where the evidence consists of "credible, persuasive" information "of a kind on which reasonably prudent persons rely in the conduct of serious affairs." In other words, the NCAA apparently believes that this vague standard of proof gives it free reign to believe whomever or whatever it wants. In the Bush matter, it was a convicted felon with no credibility.
Interesting point on how the NCAA is "judge, jury, and executioner".
More on Reggie Bush and USC.....
According to USC, credible witnesses discredited the agent's account, and there was no other evidence to establish a direct institutional link between the agent and USC. Clearly, the unsworn word of a convicted felon has significant credibility problems from the beginning, and it is hard to understand how -- even with the NCAA's vague standard -- it could ever be relied upon by a reasonably prudent person in the conduct of serious affairs (whatever that means).
On how this applies to Wooden.....
Despite the clear problems with the NCAA's standards and the case against the Trojans, many would say, Good riddance, USC; you got what you deserved. Despite the lack of credible evidence, many would consider USC's coaching staff to be guilty and complicit in any wrongdoing because the head coach and coaching staff are always responsible for everything that goes on in the program. Always.
Well, if that goes for Pete Carroll, it goes for Jim Calhoun. And it goes for John Calipari, despite the fact that Calipari has never been named in an NCAA finding of wrongdoing (notwithstanding the NCAA's flimsy standards of proof). If you are in charge, say many, you are ultimately responsible, and there is no way that the head coach couldn't know what was going on right under his nose.
Well, if you are among those that feel that way, you just called John Wooden a cheater. And as blasphemous as it seems, you would have to call Wooden an admitted cheater, and the chief witnesses against him would be his former players.
Several of Wooden's players on his championship teams have admitted taking extra benefits from Sam Gilbert, an established representative of UCLA's athletic interests during most of Wooden's championship years, and have admitted knowing that such actions were illegal. In addition, Wooden himself is on record saying that he suspected that Gilbert might have been doing illegal things, and that Wooden may have been guilty of "trusting too much."
Bilas also points out that there are so many inconsistencies concerning how the NCAA allows schools to "examine" evidence, speak to witnesses, etc., that it becomes nothing more than a dog and pony show for the world of academia, and as I have claimed, that college basketball has become what it is; aseperate entity from the Universities themselves.
Bilas finally makes this point concerning Wooden:
Make no mistake -- I am not willing to call John Wooden a cheater. But as distasteful as it is for anyone to do so, the standard by which the NCAA convicted USC requires it. And the standard that will be applied to Jim Calhoun and UConn because of the actions of a former manager may similarly require that Wooden be referred to as a cheater. And if we are going to refer to John Calipari and UMass as cheaters because of the relationship between an agent and Marcus Camby that led to the removal of the 1996 Final Four banner, then we must similarly call Wooden and UCLA cheaters, and call for the removal of UCLA's title banners.
And on top of all of this world of nonsense, the NCAA has placed a man who by their very own standards was one of the worst offenders in the history of the NCAA while he was the AD at Miami, Paul Dee. Dee who is now the Chairman of the Committee on Infractions presided over Miami while they were hit with everything but the kitchen frying pan. Is this a case of bringing in a cheater to catch cheaters? Surely the NCAA has not stooped to that level? But then again, the NCAA doesn't know what level it is at anymore.