While the overall point that Tony Barnhart makes in his utterly predictable post about the NCAA’s ruling in the Newton case – that the organization can only act upon what it can prove – is incontestable, there are a couple of whoppers in there that deserve to be challenged.
Like this one:
… But remember that a slippery slope can slide both ways. If the NCAA punished School A because a father solicted money from School B (and no money changed hands and school A didn’t even know the solicitation took place), now you have another slippery slope where the possibilities are endless. If I’m a recruiter at school B and lost a recruit to school A, when the head coach starts chewing on my butt I can just put it out there that the parent solicited money from me and get school A in trouble and take the heat off me…
Wait a minute. On that one narrow point, that Cecil Newton solicited benefits for himself from Mississippi State, this ain’t no “he said, she said” situation. Nobody, including the Newtons and Auburn University, is disputing that version of events. So Barnhart’s example of how the slope supposedly slides both ways here for the poor ol’ NCAA is total BS. In fact, in this very case, we have an actual example of how reality works. The NCAA chose only to believe half of Kenny Rogers’/the unnamed MSU recruiters’ stories about Cecil’s behavior. They chose not to act on the alleged statements attributed to the Newtons that the money was better at Auburn, presumably because no corroborating evidence could be found.
There is only one slope worth being concerned about sliding down here.
Second, as a Georgia fan who watched the school pay a price for Green’s jersey sale, this really pisses me off:
… We know that the mere solicitation is a violation of amateurism rules, which is why Auburn had to suspend Newton on Tuesday. An NCAA representative told me the knowledge, or the lack thereof, of the athlete is a “mitigating factor” in whether or not the athlete is eventually reinstated.
But can you punish a school that is not involved in that solicitation simply because the athlete chose that school? Do you at least have to have evidence that the school did something wrong?
So in both instances we’ve got violations of amateurism rules that the schools were unaware of when they occurred. Is Barnhart arguing that Georgia shouldn’t have been punished then, either? No, because earlier he notes the difference is that money actually changed hands in the case of Green. But if that’s the case, why should it matter if the school did something wrong?
The problem with his reasoning is that technically it’s not the school being punished. It’s the athlete’s amateur status that’s at risk. The school is an innocent victim if the NCAA decides to act. Is that fair? I’d argue that if all the high minded talk about preserving amateurism is meant to be taken seriously – and don’t forget that Auburn, last time I checked, is a proud member of the NCAA and benefits quite handsomely from the system that is supposedly being defended here – then, yes, it is fair. From the standpoint of consistency, it’s certainly more fair than saying a school’s ignorance of a violation matters in one situation and is irrelevant in another.