Some pre-weekend nibbles for your reading pleasure:
The North Carolina academic scandal that’s unfolding makes what the Harricks did look like small potatoes.
The academic fraud in the university’s African-American studies department was first revealed three years ago. But a new investigation shows that the fake classes were even more common than previously thought, and that athletes in particular benefited from the classes, in some cases at the behest of their academic counselors. Previous investigations had found no ties to campus athletics.
On campus, the fake classes, which at least 3,100 students took, were hardly a secret. They were particularly popular with athletes, who made up about half of enrollments. Nearly a quarter of students who took the classes were football and basketball players. And the classes made a difference: good grades that students didn’t have to work for made more than 80 eligible to graduate who otherwise would have flunked out.
The big question, of course, is what the NCAA intends to do about it. This situation cuts at the core of what the NCAA likes to proclaim is what collegiate athletics is supposed to be about. In that sense, it’s a far more troubling problem than what Mark Emmert rushed to deal with at Penn State.
The early indication appears to be that there won’t be a rush to judgment.
There is a lot of gray area for the NCAA to work through. The parties directly responsible for managing the fake classes aren’t facing criminal charges and cooperated with the investigation. But the report clearly points fingers at the two. The trickier part the NCAA will have to navigate is that while there was widespread knowledge throughout the campus of what was going on with these classes, the report does not directly implicate higher-ups. As the New York Times puts it,
Although the report found no evidence that high-level university officials knew about the fake classes, it faulted the university for missing numerous warning signs over many years.
Deciding who gets to skate and how much institutional blame is merited is where the NCAA is going to spend most of its time in review of the situation.
Using them for political gain.
That violates NCAA rules, but I’m not exactly sure whom the NCAA can punish. I bet if Prewitt and Love were threatened with suspension over it, heads would roll, though.
I realize I run the risk of getting virtually bitch-slapped for what I’m about to post. And I’m sorry about that. I have no doubt of the sincerity of the author of this post. As sincere as she may be, though, she’s way off base with her sentiment.
Todd Gurley hasn’t broken the law. He hasn’t broken a team rule. He’s still in good standing with his coaches and his teammates. He still practices with them.
What he stands accused of is exactly the same thing Mark Richt does every time he gets behind the wheel of that big Ford truck and faces the camera: getting paid for being himself. And if Todd Gurley left Georgia tomorrow, he’d be free to pick up where he left off.
That isn’t to excuse Gurley. The NCAA rule exists and he’s alleged to have violated it. There are consequences.
But there’s nothing noble about his suspension. Georgia isn’t taking some brave stand here. And, with all due respect to Mary Grace Alston Lyon, it’s wrong to romanticize the situation. All you’re doing is encouraging the greedy bastards who are well on their way to ruining our beloved sport to stay greedy.
College football may have a soul. But the people forcing Todd Gurley to sit out and be unable to contribute to his team have money market accounts and reserve funds. Don’t make the mistake of confusing the two. Gurley and college football deserve better than that.
Here’s something else about which Mark Emmert would like to remain totally clueless.
Calling this stuff farcical would be an insult to farces everywhere.
Will Leitch’s post about Todd Gurley and his future is an eloquent rebuttal to every “it’s not what’s on the back of the jersey that matters, but what’s on the front” argument you’ve ever heard.
It would make me, and everyone in my town, and millions of college football fans, sad if Gurley was finished as a Georgia Bulldog. But with all due respect: Why should anybody care about us? We allow this corrupt system to exist. If we want players to put their bodies on the line every Saturday while we scream off all the bourbon we consumed pregame, we should make it worth their while. If we do not change the system, we cannot complain if someone begs out of it because it is not in their best interests.
You know what would make the NCAA and the schools take a hard look at their amateurism model? If every star player entering his third year like Gurley announced he was leaving school, hiring an agent and spending the year preparing for the NFL draft instead.