Seems Sir Charles was right after all. Somehow this wonderfully crafted piece by Dan Wetzel at YahooSports got past us for nearly a week before we found it. Wetzel essentially fires a Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US shot across the bow of the Good Ship NCAA, led by Capt. Myles Brand, for its notably lax invisible investigation and enforcement of NCAA rules among its two revenue cash cow sports, football and basketball.
Doing some solid investigative work himself, Wetzel concludes that it’s been nearly two years since a major college basketball program was hit with a significant violation (Kansas with Ol’ Roy’s largesse in Oct 2006), which is the longest such drought in almost a half-century. Similarly, it’s been fifteen clean months in college football since the last major violation (Oklahoma in July 2007). So the reasonable conclusion here is that the NCAA has cleaned up its high-profile sports to the point where schools are by and large playing by the rules, right? Right?
Wetzel has a slightly different take:
The NCAA has expanded its staff of investigators (its cops) to an all-time high of 20. It now has its infractions committee (its judge and jury) meet as often as seven times per year. Still, it hasn’t been this feeble at catching crooks since a 16-month stretch ending in 1962. Back then, it had one investigator. [...] It never has been so obvious the NCAA is protecting its big-time programs and television money. It’s gotten to the point where Jerry Tarkanian’s legendary line about the NCAA’s selective enforcement habits – “the NCAA was so mad at Kentucky, it gave Cleveland State two more years of probation” – has become outdated. These days the NCAA doesn’t even get mad at Kentucky.
Wetzel goes on to describe just how toothless the NCAA investigations staff has become in recent years despite its recent expansion. Apparently they’re still quite excellent at catching small-school hopscotch coaches who have the audacity to text recruits outside of the mandated contact periods (check the below list from 2008). But when it comes to the power conference schools who have big money, big boosters, big media and drive the whole ship into port for the NCAA coffers, the investigators are largely missing.
What a joke. We harkened back to this problem when the OJ Mayo allegations came out last spring. With a notorious character like Rodney Guillory hanging around the USC program, how could the NCAA and the LA media have so completely missed it? We’ll buy the fact that newspapers don’t have the proper resources to perform comprehensive investigative journalism while entire newsrooms are shuttering, but the NCAA still has no excuse. Especially when we look at the above list and see what those twenty investigators have been so diligently working on for the past nine months.
We made reference yesterday to coaches like Billy Gillispie finding the grey areas of the NCAA rulebook and making those in charge make decisions. With what Wetzel has shown us, we ask, why even bother with the gray areas? Why not just start funnelling booster money directly to recruits instead of worrying about impressing them with big extravaganza weekends? Make it truly an arms race where the most-moneyed always win. Then at least we can all walk away from the stench without lying to ourselves as to what’s causing it.