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NCAA drops the ball: It’s become a caricature of ineptitude

photo by Geoff Chen


NCAA drops the ball: It’s become a caricature of ineptitude

The NCAA is a large lumbering behemoth of an organization. Much like the federal government it has many moving parts and is slow to change. Often you can take the NCAA’s side on some disputes knowing these facts.

A good example is the North Carolina academic scandal that has been dragging on for years now. The NCAA is going through a lot of evidence and the scale of the punishment necessary to fit the crime means the association better get it right. They are going to slap North Carolina athletics into the next millennium for widespread academic fraud. Six years of investigations is understandable.

However, that situation is a short list of where the NCAA and its process gets it right. Normally one that tries to see both sides of a situation, the most recent situation with the NCAA and Indiana University has no second side. The NCAA has made a mind numbingly stupid decision to once again punish the kid for the transgressions of the institution.

If you are not in the know, Indiana University’s compliance department dropped the ball. Freshman football player Bryant Fitzgerald (a kid who was likely to factor a lot in IU’s upcoming season) has been ruled ineligible. Due to privacy rules, IU is not going to tell us how they screwed up, but they have made it very clear that his lack of eligibility was their fault. Claiming that blame, Indiana filed a waiver with the NCAA laying out their errors and asking for the NCAA to restore Fitzgerald’s eligibility. The NCAA said no. Indiana appealed that ruling and the NCAA with a chance to take a closer look and do the right thing, once again said no.

First, we should not let Indiana off the hook. Their whole purpose as a compliance office is to get this stuff right and to do so at a 100% clip. There is no excuse for such an oversight, whatever it was. Athletic Director Fred Glass seems to understand that since he has committed to expanding the compliance department and create redundancies to make sure this never happens again. But there is a major issue that it happened in the first place. Still, the NCAA had the chance to recognize the error on the part of the institution and protect the student-athlete they claim to care about. Nope.

Just another example in a long line of them where the NCAA is completely out of touch with reality. I really don’t understand the purpose of the association anymore. Cheating runs rampant in recruiting across all sports, but never fear the NCAA is there to rule a freshman ineligible because their school messed up on paperwork. Or they’re present to slap around a kicker for monetizing his Youtube channel. Or how about that time Rick Majerus had recruiting restrictions placed on him because he bought his team pizza after practice. What about that time they hired West Virginia’s athletic director and then sanctioned West Virginia for infractions that happened under his watch?

The list is as sad as it is long of the NCAA making mind numbingly stupid decisions. Maybe it is time to move past the NCAA. The hypocrisy flowing out of the headquarters in downtown Indianapolis knows no bounds. They claim to be about the student athlete. Their website says as much and every year you see commercials about most student-athletes going pro in something besides their sport. Perhaps some of them should go pro in compliance and association management, because the hacks at corporate get it wrong twice as often as they get it right.    

A Southwest Indiana native, Adam Johnson has spent 28 years obsessing over sports. Obsession with sports and competition has led Adam to write and operate an IU sports blog, run a Bachelor/Bachelorette fantasy league, and apply for a spot on CBS’ Survivor annually since he’s been eligible for the show. Now living in the western suburbs of Indianapolis, Adam spends his time trying to figure out how to raise a child, maintain a career, stay in shape and simultaneously feed his preoccupation for sports. While most of his writing is focused on sports, Adam occasionally gets the bug to share opinions that he probably shouldn’t.

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