Actions have consequences, even for Mark Emmert.

For those of you who don’t see the can of worms Mark Emmert opened with the decision to bypass the usual NCAA enforcement process in the wake of the PSU scandal, maybe a couple of points raised in this Pat Forde column will help illustrate what I’ve argued.

First, from Emmert’s own lips:

“One of the grave dangers stemming from our love of sports is the sports themselves can become too big to fail and too big to even challenge. The result can be an erosion of academic values that are replaced by hero worship and winning at all costs.”  [Emphasis added.]

As Forde notes, how can you play the academic card and then remain inactive in the face of the North Carolina scandal?

But here’s the real issue that Emmert has created:

And now that a “Damn the Rulebook, Do What’s Right” precedent has been established, is North Carolina’s sad academic sandal a logical second act for the Emmert Posse?

If not, I’d say the NCAA has some explaining to do. So does Josephine Potuto.

Potuto is a former NCAA Committee on Infractions member and chairwoman, and currently is the NCAA faculty athletic representative at Nebraska. She told Yahoo! Sports last month that she’s concerned about the precedent the Penn State ruling sets for the NCAA to jump outside its standard operating procedures. Now, Potuto said, the NCAA will have to explain itself every time it chooses not to get involved in an athletic issue on campus that is not directly related to NCAA bylaws.

Whether the NCAA decides to act or not in North Carolina’s case, it’s going to have to rationalize the call publicly either way or risk further erosion to its credibility – assuming Emmert cares about that, of course.


Filed under Academics? Academics., The NCAA

30 responses to “Actions have consequences, even for Mark Emmert.

  1. ChicagoDawg

    And the hand wringing and mis-placed outrage continues….ahem. When is kick-off?

  2. hunkerdowndawg

    Suspend them for three games. It’s not like the sold their own souvenir jersey for crying out loud!

  3. Scorpio Jones, III

    “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.”

  4. Dog in Fla

    Mark says potatoe. She says Potuto. Grave dangers? Too big to fail? Too big to challenge? Erosion of values? Hero worship? Winning at all costs? Thinking of a bailout? There’s already a nsfw sign for that

  5. BWD

    So if the NCAA doesn’t use the Penn State ruling as precedent to use the “Damn the rulebook, do what’s right” approach that everyone feared it would, they have to explain that? Here’s the explanation: the UNC case doesn’t involve the football coach, AD, and school president allowing a child rapist to continue raping children in the football facilities. That’s an easy distinction that will forever be valid, regardless of Emmert’s blustering about academics. It seems the only people that will demand an explanation are the ones that saw the Penn State ruling as nothing more than a power grab, and they need an explanation as to why that didn’t turn out to be the case. The NCAA will need to explain itself only if it does extend the Penn State precedent to UNC, which is a legitimate concern. Then you will be proven right, Senator, I will have to agree that the Penn State case was nothing more than a power grab, and my NCAA cynicism training will be complete.

    • Hackerdog

      The thing about your explanation is that it doesn’t match Emmert’s. Emmert didn’t say, “We’re only doing this because it’s child rape.” You can read his quote in the Senator’s post. But it was about academic values and NCAA core mission stuff.

      So, if the PSU case was bad for academics, then the UNC case has to be worse for academics. If the PSU case wasn’t about academics at all, which you and I both think is the case, then Emmert was just blowing smoke up our asses in justifying his power grab.

      • BWD

        Or Emmert just said what he thought he had to say to justify undoubtedly questionable action in this one case. I may very well be wrong, but I really think the PSU case was about the PSU case, not some greater power play by the NCAA to create a new regime, and I just don’t buy that the NCAA now has to answer why the PSU case is not precedent for every case going forward.

        • Hackerdog

          Again, Emmert didn’t sell the PSU case as a one time only intervention. Or rather, he argued that it was both a precedent, and a one time only intervention. He said that he wanted to serve notice that winning at all costs will not be tolerated by the NCAA. That means that the new, more powerful, less accountable, NCAA will be patrolling college athletics to preserve academics and all that core mission crap.

          My point is, once someone breaks the rules, do you really believe him when he promises not to do it again? Or, more appropriately, that he’ll only break the rules when it’s really important? I would rather have someone who never breaks the rules.

    • … It seems the only people that will demand an explanation are the ones that saw the Penn State ruling as nothing more than a power grab, and they need an explanation as to why that didn’t turn out to be the case.

      It’s not that it was nothing more than a power grab. It’s that it was a classic example of the ends justifying the means. That doesn’t seem to bother a lot of people. My feeling is that it’s a bad precedent to set with an organization that acts as randomly as the NCAA does.

      • BWD

        Fair enough. It’s a legitimate concern. I guess I’m in the group that doesn’t mind the ends justifying the means in this one case. I know that’s putting a lot of faith in the NCAA.

  6. Mark Emmert didn’t want to let a good crisis go to waste. The NCAA is an absolute joke as a governing body for collegiate sports. It’s time for the biggest 64 or so athletic programs to tell the NCAA to pound sand and form their own body with a sensible set of rules. Everybody except the NCAA and most of the mid-majors wins because the networks get compelling matchups, the universities that pay the freight get the rewards, and the fans hopefully get a better product for ever increasing ticket prices.

    • DawgPhan

      because football teams governing football teams would not be a joke of a governing body?

      UNC having easy classes is not the concern of the NCAA. It never has been, and probably never will be.

      If the classes existed, students enrolled in them, they turned in written assignments and got grades, end of story. There is nothing for the NCAA to look at. if UNC was forging transcripts, then you have something, but I havent seen that set of facts yet. Everything I have seen says the classes existed and students took and earned grades for those classes.

      • I just can’t stand the NCAA. I still resent the way the NCAA treated A.J. Green and didn’t do anything about Newton or the slap on the wrist to the people involved in the agent party of 2010. There needs to be a sensible set of rules rather than the joke of the book today.

      • paul

        The UNC case is not about easy classes. Remember that the initial investigation was around agents, runners and improper benefits and relationships. They admitted guilt and coaches resigned and were fired. That inquiry. eventually turned up allegations of no-show classes (not simply easy classes) and tutors being paid to do athletes work. These are far more serious issues than simply offering crip classes. Easy classes do not constitute academic fraud. At an educational institution, academic fraud is about the most serious accusation you can make. There is little that could be more devastating to a university than substantiated claims of academic fraud. It’s the equivalent of a bank being convicted of cooking the books. It speaks to the very core of your mission and values. Even worse, there is evidence suggesting this has gone on for as long as a decade.

    • Concern FAN

      about time some has got it right, NCAA and particular Emmert used the PSU scandal for a power play and his own personal future financial gain. Which that liar, Emmert, will deny. NCAA opened a box which will never close, and now will under react to any other scandals, because of the justified criticism they received. Emmert is a total political hack and phony who used a power grab opportunity. Karma will get him and Dr.Ley one day, another no good phony.

  7. ChicagoDawg

    So what is a favorable outcome here then? Emmert and NCAA grab more power in the UNC affair, to fulfill the power hungry prophecies? Emmert and NCAA execute another “ends justify the means” ruling, so as to be consistent with PSU approach and fulfill more prophecy? Or, allow the University deal with its academic departments/affairs?

    • Hackerdog

      My preferred outcome would be for the NCAA to follow its own bylaws and not grab for more power. At the same time, I would like to see the NCAA treat academic fraud as a serious matter and not be so quick to dismiss new information in the case.


        I think this is as boiled down as I feel about this case, and others for that matter. The biggest crime the NCAA committed from my perspective was the posturing, harping these very specific themes:

        Winning at all costs

        To punish a school (bear with me here…) that has had very good academics from its athletes, at a school that was one of two with no past NCAA infringement history, in a case where it’s arguable at best that Penn State was even benefiting in wins and losses from a coverup (O’Brien’s recruiting class before the Freeh report, when we knew about Sandusky but not the full extent of the coverup, was leaps and bounds better than Paterno’s average since 2001), well it’s hard to see the logic there, and it’s what makes this thing look like an opportunistic power grab.

        If the NCAA had simply said they plan on punishing Penn State for the worst kind of leadership failure and the back eye it gives other member institutions, I would have been fine with that. Instead he repeated the above three theme that had nothing to do with the Penn State case, and is now passing on any punishment at all for a case that very clearly violates all three of those themes. That’s the part that is hard to digest.

  8. Always Someone Else's Fault

    “it’s a slippery slope if you pull the trigger on PSU! Don’t do it!”

    “Well, you pulled the trigger on PSU, so if you don’t do it to the next school that makes big headlines, well then… you’re not proving my original point about it all being a slippery slope! That makes Emmert’s NCAA hypocritical!”

    Dog, chase tail.

    • ChicagoDawg

      Right, which was the point of my previous set of questions. I can’t tell which will frustrate the Ford’s of the world more. Emmert acting on UNC or not acting. Either way, it is a logic loop pursuit of self-fulfilling prophecy.

      See! He is power grabbing again. Or, wait he is not getting involved in a heavy handed way. Ha is a hypocrite!

      • Always Someone Else's Fault

        Like all astute media types, he understands that he gets to be indignant and write lots of easy columns either way.

        Sort of like the PSU case. These guys would be hammering the NCAA for looking the other way if they had done nothing. And if they had pushed it through normal COI channels, these same writers would be hammering the NCAA for taking the normal glacial pace to reinvent investigations when they already had the criminal investigations and the Freeh report. How dare they hang all those poor PSU people out to dry in bureaucratic limbo for two years?! Make a decision! Move forward!

        I don’t have any affection for the NCAA, but our news/editorial cycle can be awfully myopic at times.

        Senator, you’ve been engaged in explaining your reasoning behind your perspective. I don’t include you in that category.


          The win-win here would seem to be to focus on creating NCAA bylaws and standards that allow for a standard operating procedure that (1) can be followed in all cases in order to subject all schools and all “crimes” to the same set of standards and (2) and doesn’t create two years of limbo.

          I do agree with your general point, which is that the NCAA, by having crappy tools and an unfocused history of behavior, was in a lose-lose because they couldn’t do the above, and were forced between a two day trial and a two year trial. I have a hard time feeling bad for Emmert & Co. on that account though, because just like PSU they made their own bed.

    • Again, the issue isn’t punishing PSU. It’s ditching standard policies and procedures to punish PSU. And talking a bunch of grandiose bullshit to justify it.

      The problem isn’t whether the NCAA punishes UNC. It’s how it goes about its business deciding how to handle the matter. And given how much of a mess Emmert’s created, I don’t see a course of action that is both sensible and consistent available to it.

      • Always Someone Else's Fault

        I don’t think the COI process was ever designed with child-rape cover-up in mind. However, the member charter clearly outlined that exceptional cases could be subject to exceptional remedies. Policies weren’t ditched. Rarely used policies were enacted. Why? Because a case like PSU comes around once every hundred years (hopefully).

        UNC, on the other hand, fits neatly in the COI box and represents exactly the kind of behavior the COI was designed to address. If the UNC investigation turns up additional evidence that warrants a COI return to the case, then that’s what the COI will do.

        Beyond the sensational nature of the school involved, what exactly has happened at UNC that would even begin to push it out of the COI pigeon-hole? Clearly defined NCAA violations at every turn.

        I’ve never understood the argument that just because we’re all familiar with an NCAA routine, all NCAA matters must be handled by that routine or not at all. Every contractual agreement has a clause in it that that essentially says, “And if you pull something so spectacularly wrong that we didn’t even think to address it in the nuts and bolts of our normal by-laws, you’re toast, and we’ll let you know how toast at our own convenience.”

        Again – how is this radical? It’s standard, normal legal SOP from where I sit.

        • UNC, on the other hand, fits neatly in the COI box and represents exactly the kind of behavior the COI was designed to address. If the UNC investigation turns up additional evidence that warrants a COI return to the case, then that’s what the COI will do.

          Really. Then I guess you won’t have any problem listing the schools that have been punished by the NCAA for academic fraud.