No matter what anyone thinks of the NCAA, the one-man jihad that NY Times columnist Joe Nocera has been waging against the organization passed the bounds of journalism and into bloviation several columns back, and has now escalated into a full-blown war of words.
The NCAA isn't threatening legal action, and it would be near-impossible to pull off since Nocera is writing opinion columns, and the threshold for any kind of defamation suit against a newspaper columnist is almost impossibly high (actual malice) but not completely unreachable in this case. Even so, the NCAA is not sitting back and taking it, either, and I welcome that debate. It is refreshing to see the NCAA shed some light on their activities, even if it is a relatively small amount.
Crusades like Noceras often degenerate into mud-wrestling, and that's where this is headed. At some point, he should just take his additional fame, put it in the bank, and move on. It appears, as time goes on, that he is running out of factual arguments and further into invalid conclusions and unethical comments, which will only damage his credibility.
As for the NCAA, they have a ton of work to do PR-wise with the sporting public anyway, and continuing to engage Nocera will only help for a while unless he goes completely off the reservation. Even though he has flirted with the border, he's still in the neutral zone, so perhaps it's time for both to dial it back and return to base.