NCAA Justice Not Denied, But Delayed Another Story
Written by Jim Litke, AP Sports Columnist Wednesday, 23 March 2011 20:46
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Bruce Pearl is hardly the first coach to cheat and-or lie to NCAA investigators, just one of the very few whose transgressions already cost him a job and could wind up costing him a career.
Cold as it sounds, sacrificing Pearl might be worth the trouble if it deterred others from taking the same low road.
The NCAA enforcement people love to say that every case they consider involves "a distinctive set of facts." No doubt. But their rulings say otherwise.
Justice is rarely denied for those caught red-handed, but delayed? If your team has an opportunity to make money for the swells in charge of the postseason for either of the big revenue-producing sports — football and basketball — there's never a rush.
Not coincidentally, the exception has both a name and a place in the NCAA's tortured rulebook — "a unique opportunity."
Former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton didn't have to squeeze through that loophole to play in the Bowl Championship Series title game two months ago; NCAA investigators simply took Newton at his word that he had no idea his father was shopping him around to at least one other school, asking for nearly $200,000 in exchange for Cam's signature on a letter of intent.
But the "unique opportunity" escape clause is exactly how five members of Ohio State's football team remained eligible for the Sugar Bowl after being caught selling jerseys, championship rings and trophies to a local tattoo parlor owner.
Instead, the five-game suspension handed down will be served at the start of next season, which coincides with the soft part of the Buckeyes' schedule.
Cynical as that seemed at the time, it gets even worse. Turns out Jim Tressel was tipped off to the violations more than nine months ago and hid it from the NCAA, his school's compliance department and even the higher-ups. He went so far to mislead Ohio State's internal investigators as recently as December before coming clean earlier this month.
Ohio State's response was a two-game suspension, plus clawing back $250,000 from Tressel's salary, estimated at $3.5 million annually.
With the possibility of an even more severe punishment from the NCAA hanging over his head, Tressel finally apologized and asked OSU athletic director Gene Smith to tack on an additional three games, contending "my mistakes need to share the same game sanctions."
Like Pearl's former employer, Tennessee, Ohio State is hoping that self-punishment is harsh enough to keep the NCAA from inflicting any more.
Pearl lost his job after his team lost an NCAA tournament game to Michigan by 30 points, apparently running up against the unwritten rule that administrations will tolerate cheating, but not cheating and losing.
It's worth remembering in the middle of March madness that football coaches and players aren't the only ones turning up in the NCAA docket.
Connecticut basketball coach Jim Calhoun was handed a three-game suspension for failing to maintain "an atmosphere of compliance" — translation: running an out-of-control program. UConn was also hit with scholarship reductions, recruiting restrictions and three years' probation, but Calhoun's penalty doesn't take effect until next season, allowing him to roam the sideline for however long the Huskies keep advancing in the tournament.
UConn may have been surprised the NCAA piled some extra penalties atop those the school imposed on itself, but not the delayed justice afforded Calhoun. The NCAA makes 90 percent of its revenue from the tournament — the current TV contract covers 14 years for $10.8 billion, or about $700 million per year — and the one constant in the punishment the organization metes out is its reluctance to mess with rainmakers such as Tressel and Calhoun while it's raining money.
The kids who help make that possible don't appear to get the same breaks, especially those who play at the less-glamorous programs.
Former Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant was suspended for an entire football season after lying to investigators about going out for lunch with former NFL star Deion Sanders. Kansas State basketball players Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly were suspended just hours before a game after getting "improper benefits" at a department store.
Likewise, Baylor's Perry Jones was found to have received those same benefits and handed a six-game suspension, but his began with the team's Big 12 tournament game.
Citing both the Newton and Ohio State cases, athletic director Ian McCaw argued Baylor's team "received a disparate outcome in relation to other recent high profile cases."
Anytime the NCAA cares to explain its rationale, we're all ears. The people who run college sports push the notion that what they're protecting is amateurism and not the monied interests. But all the lying going on at every level below them is done in the service of preserving that bigger lie.
Knight, Sampson in 2011 College Hall of Fame Class
Written by The Associated Press Monday, 28 February 2011 12:25
Bob Knight, who coached Indiana to three national titles and had 902 wins in 41 seasons, and Virginia great Ralph Sampson are among the eight members of the Class of 2011 of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
Also in the class announced Monday are coach Eddie Sutton, players James Worthy, Cazzie Russell and Chris Mullin and contributors Joe Vancisin and Eddie Einhorn.
Induction will take place at the Hall of Fame on Nov. 20 as part of a three-day celebration that includes the CBE Classic at Sprint Center featuring Missouri, California, Georgia and Notre Dame.
Knight also coached at Army and Texas Tech and finished with a record of 902-371, the most wins of any men's coach in Division I. In addition to NCAA titles in 1976, 1981 and 1987, Knight guided Indiana to 11 Big Ten championships.
He is one of three coaches to lead a team to NCAA and NIT titles and an Olympic gold medal. His teams had a graduation rate of 98 percent. Knight was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 1991.
Sampson, a four-time All-America at Virginia, is one of three men to be national player of the year three times (1981-83). He joined Cincinnati's Oscar Robertson and UCLA's Bill Walton as three-time winners. The 7-foot-4 Sampson led Virginia to a 112-23 record, including an appearance in the 1981 Final Four. He was the sixth player in NCAA history to score more than 2,000 points (2,228) and have more than 1,500 rebounds (1,511).
Sutton was the first coach to take four schools to the NCAA tournament — Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State. His teams at Arkansas (1978) and Oklahoma State (1995, 2004) advanced to the Final Four. He had an 804-328 record in 36 seasons.
Worthy is one of seven North Carolina players to have his jersey number retired. He led the Tar Heels to the national championship game in 1981 as a sophomore and to the title the next season when he was a unanimous All-America selection. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 2003.
Russell, who played at Michigan from 1964-66, led the Wolverines to three Big Ten titles and a 65-17 record in his three seasons while scoring 2,164 points. A three-time All-America, Russell led Michigan to the Final Four as a sophomore and a junior, losing in the championship game to UCLA in 1965.
Mullin led St. John's to the Final Four as a senior in 1985 when he was a unanimous All-America selection and won the Wooden Award as the nation's top player. He was the first player at St. John's to break the 2,000-point mark and was credited with Georgetown's Patrick Ewing with establishing the Big East as one of the nation's top conferences. A two-time Olympian, he won gold medals in 1984 under Knight and in 1992 as part of the original "Dream Team."
Vancisin spent 54 years in college basketball as a player, coach and administrator. He was a starting guard for Dartmouth when it lost to Utah in the 1944 NCAA championship game. He was the head coach at Yale for 19 seasons, winning two Ivy League titles. A respected clinician, Vancisin was member of the U.S. Olympic staffs in 1976 and 1980 team and he served as president of the NABC in 1974 and was its executive director for 17 years before retiring in 1992.
Einhorn, the founder and chairman of the TVS television network, was a leader of sports programming. His network's telecast of the Houston-UCLA game from the Astrodome in 1968 is credited for the growth in popularity of college basketball on television. He is the author of "How March Became Madness," which covered the evolution of the NCAA men's basketball championship.
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