The NCAA Is Wrong? Nobody's Perfect

Rules? We don't need no stinking rules! That may become the new battlecry when the NCAA is finished with this year's total score.

I have in the past, been labelled as a purveyor of much more hyperbole than is necessecary when it comes to writing about the NCAA and their current events calendar for the year 2012. One way or another, they are going to see this year go down in history as a turning point for the world as college athletics now knows it. There is just one problem. They are putting the cart before the horse, at least as far as the experts can tell. And if North Carolina is not careful, they get to become the next test subject in the lab.

When the NCAA started looking into the Penn State debacle, most of the "media elite" said that they needed to stay out of affairs that were beyond the scope of their rulebook. Quotes like "let the proper authorities handle it" and "this is not within the NCAA guidelines to punish" were bandied about frequently. We had some of the most divided discussions we have ever had during the time that the NCAA was deciding what to do. Then things really got ugly. The NCAA went ballistic, the Paterno family went and got on their high horses, and the victims of the Sandusky crimes got nothing in exchange for their grief except the justice of the United States' Government. (remember that line right there, we will be needing it later)

What did everyone expect was going to happen? Had the NCAA done nothing, the critics (such as myself) would have said they needed to be disbanded. The families of the victims would have continued to cry for justice that the NCAA could not provide, and the "experts" would have written consoling pieces about the NCAA's hands being tied behind their backs. And absolutely nothing would have changed. Nothing. Confused? Baffled? Well, you shouldn't be. The simple fact of the matter is that the NCAA got the cart in front of the horse. Boy did they. Unfortunately, it had to happen. Some of you will say no, but it had to. See, there has to be a catastrophic event to occur to bring the incredibly shameful disaster of the NCAA and their lack of credibility. And what did they do to try and stop it? Commit another act of incrediblity. It's a snowball effect. It's a Catch-22. It's a dark comedy with a Hitchcock plot twist. But no one wanted the boat rocked because all of the parties involved were getting rich. Not filthy rich mind you, but in the varying levels of trickle-down NCAA Economics 101, people were getting paid and no one wanted the eagle to stop flying.

And when the smoke cleared, the critics were shouting hallelujah to the rooftops and the NCAA Excuse writers were now calling for their demise. Oh how things can quickly change.And the stupid part of all of this is that it could have all been avoided with a little bit of common sense and a mea culpa of sorts from the NCAA.

Here is what the order of events should have been. Or at least my version of them.

#1 Penn State announces that Sandusky affair was farther reaching that they originally believed.

#2 NCAA announces that in light of the seriousness of the Penn State scandal, an emergency meeting of the executive committee has been called for to insitute sweeping changes to the NCAA guidelines, Rulebook and purpose. As soon as the executive committee makes their recommendations, the entire membership body will convene to ratify the changes.

#3 Executive committee does it's job, makes the changes necessecary to keep the NCAA a viable governing body for years to come, the membership ratifies it and things can go back to normal (as they get for the NCAA)

#4 Penn State VOLUNTEERS to remove it's program from competition for a year. Stating they need to re-educate and retrain all athletic dept personnel on how to handle these situations. Yes I know some of you would ask why would they do that, but the truth is that it would have been nothing compared to what actually happened to them, and the NCAA could have saved face by proclaiming that Penn State was making strides to correct the problem.

#5 The NCAA immediately institutes all of the changes proposed by the Executive Committee and makes it clear to all schools that there will be no more "business as usual" when it comes to violations and violators. The caveat is that there is a grandfather clause that excludes all current NCAA investigations, and ANY violations reported within the next 60 days. Call it NCAA Amnesty if you like.

#6 The NCAA then spends 5M on educating members about safety of kids in their current programs, including programs sponsored by the University themselves (which are now directly under the NCAA's guidance, as per the new rules).

Now no one has the right to complain. Except the victims of course, who were never going to get anything but what justice the United States' Legal System was going to give them in the first place. No one gets to make statements like this one from Pat Forde:
-the situation demands a signal from NCAA president Mark Emmert- Will he and the NCAA executive committee cowboy up again? Will they circumvent the rules manual and due process and go after Carolina on the basis of general principle, a la Penn State?
Now I am not singling Pat Forde out here. Most folks agree with him on this one. And he is not going easy on UNC. But the truth here is that the NCAA is made up of an entire group of lawbreaking miscreants, who have either already been caught, or are going to be at some point isn't it? That's why no one wants reform. That is why Mark Emmert and his band of merry men had to overstep their bounds in the Penn State case. It was the only way to get the ball rolling. The only way things were all going to come to a head. Now there is no way to put the genie back into the bottle. What's the old saying? It is easier to get forgiveness than permission? Now the NCAA has to decide how far to push the envelope. How much do they want to rock the boat? And who is going to be left holding the bag when it is all over?
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