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Saturday, 28 October 2017 21:52

NCAA Shows It Is Useless Featured

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When the NCAA turns a blind eye to criminal behavior while punishing players who legitimately make money for themselves, something is seriously wrong.

The NCAA is a toothless and increasingly useless organization, as shown by its decision last week in one of the worst cases of academic fraud in college sports history.

The NCAA announced Friday that it wouldn't punish the University of North Carolina for sham classes that were used for decades to keep hundreds of athletes eligible. Even though the practice disproportionately benefited athletes, the NCAA decided it couldn't punish the university because other students also took the classes.

The rulings come on the heels of the FBI arresting 10 people, including assistant coaches at some top-tier college basketball programs, in an alleged bribery scheme involving apparel companies. The NCAA subsequently announced the creation of a committee, which includes former University of Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley, to study how to guard against corruption in college basketball.

The committee's charge should be expanded to consider whether the NCAA should even exist in its current form. The North Carolina case shows how the organization cares more about protecting the billions of dollars in profits generated by football and men's basketball than its supposed mission to protect student athletes.

As if to drive the point home, the NCAA on the same day as the ruling announced a student transferring to another school in the state was ineligible to play men's basketball for a year. The student briefly attended classes at Ohio State University and stopped when the coach there quit, but the NCAA ruled that was enough to bar him from playing at North Carolina State University for a year.

Here in Florida, we have seen plenty of similar examples of the hypocrisy and moral compromises in big-money college athletics. Some that happened at Florida State University are detailed in a book by New York Times reporter Mike McIntire titled "Champions Way: Football, Florida, and The Lost Soul of College Sports."
McIntire writes of cases such as an FSU teaching assistant who alleged she was pressured to give special breaks to athletes in online courses. FSU, like other schools including UF, hides behind student-privacy laws to prevent reporting on whether such problems are prevalent.

UF deserves credit for suspending nine football players facing charges on credit card fraud, despite the negative impact of the team's season. The actions stand in contrast to the tenure of former coach Urban Meyer, who won two championships but also led major programs under which players were arrested.

The NCAA largely allows universities to police themselves for arrested players or academic fraud, but take a hard-line approach on athletes who receive outside money.

When the NCAA turns a blind eye to criminal behavior while punishing players who legitimately make money for themselves, something is seriously wrong.

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