Well after a four month wait, the NCAA has ruled on the University of North Carolina’s nine (9) – yes as in one short of double-digit – MAJOR violations. And, if you want to know just how light the Tar Heels got off, you need look no further than Chancellor Holden Thorpe’s near-instant assertion that UNC will NOT appeal the ruling. Yeah…they know they got off big-time and an appeal would only serve to underscore just how effed up the NCAA is…how easily influenced, how random the judgments, and how undeniably impossible it is to find equity in the decisions made by this self-imposed organization.
In the immortal words of the fictional Johnny Dangerously in his movie ending banter with a would-be criminal kid…
Johnny D: “Hey kid, don’t forget, crime doesn’t pay.”
Little kid: “Right…”
Johnny D: “Well…it paid a little.”
Yes, in college sports, unless you are SMU or a now non-AQ team (for some perspective look at what the NCAA did to little Cleveland State in the 1980s and tell me if you can with a straight face say that it even comes within sniffing distance of UNC’s transgressions), crime indeed does pay. And at UNC, we are actually talking about crimes, not just cheating at sports, but also blatant and rampant academic fraud, which is an injustice done to any student who has pursued, is pursuing, or will pursue a degree from any institution in the UNC system. With all of the benefits some of these players were getting, most of them will also get to walk off with a degree from a prestigious university that was not earned. And, that pisses me off.
Now many of my friends here and on the BYB were insistent that the NCAA would not be hard on UNC and I consistently pushed back. My thinking was that if they were going to slap the likes of USC and Ohio State hard for their transgressions, then surely UNC – ground breaking in their cheating – would get a heavier hand. I did give pause to the fact that NCAA is about as tight as a drunk goose’s gate, but never in my wildest dreams did I think UNC would get off this light. I considered that the NCAA rarely goes too hard on a name brand team, often opting instead to make examples out of the have nots in the world but I think what I must have underestimated is the immense good old boy network that UNC has and how much umphhhh they can leverage when needed.
Which may explain to some degree how the ACC in general somehow keeps its AQ football status despite being weak in performance. Not naming names but…you know…follow the connected dots and its seems to go straight from UNC to the league top to the BCS, which quietly influences the NCAA. I know…conspiracy theories, but you have to wonder how UNC got off given its violations.
So, to my point about crime paying…
The NCAA in its ruling on UNC, has once again reinforced the fact that cheating is a path to the top that should be considered by all who want to get there. Pay your players, promise them the NFL, give them grades (heck pay someone else even do the work), excuse their misdeeds (e.g., unpaid parking ticktes), lie to the NCAA and do whatever else you please to get the wins and the prestige of signing the nation’s top paper talent. Never mind that you may not actually do anything on the field – UNC has shown that if you consistently get top recruiting classes, make good on your promises to these young guys, and hype yourself endlessly, you will become part of the conversation and hence, benefit immensely. Now, I suppose the logical reaction is, “Hey, with all that cheating, they still were a mediocre team.” And that is true…unless you are sitting in their back yard trying to compete for players, TV time, facilities improvements, etc. Then, you feel the full pain of THEIR cheating. And for them, the beat will go on.
UNC will figure out how to defer, plant, move around players, etc., so that they can continue to oversign the players, promise them the world, and keep on business as usual. They won’t feel any real pain and any of the gains made will be realized. They will still point to their NFL alums (not noting to the fact that they were paid to play), they will still peddle television, AQ status, etc.., all the benefits that they market to the players and keep on growing the program. So…they miss a bowl game. That will be the only pain point they have and that they may axe a few current roster players to allow for redistribution of their scholarships.
I guess the next real test will be if the NCAA quickly runs away from UNC or if UNC is monitored while on probation. The latter is important because with such a light penalty, you can bet that the UNC fat cats won’t take long before they are pushing for football to be elite again and greasing those skids again…they are almost certain to cheat again because they have already demonstrated that they didn’t fix their compliance issues in regards to player activity, academic issues, etc.
Well, that is my rant. The UNC folks and fans were right about one thing for sure…the NCAA is a horrid, arbitrary organization with no standards and even less integrity. Of course they were saying that in anticipation of a huge penalty, but they were right..dead on.
Indeed Johnny…crime does pay a little bit sometimes.
What say you on this topic my friends??
Great read. I would add something, but you pretty much covered everything I wanted to say about the subject. The sad thing is if we did the same thing, I’m 99% sure we’d get made an example of by the NCAA because we are part of the “have-nots”. A one-year bowl ban is an absolute joke – that does very little to current players (outside of maybe some seniors) and incoming freshmen. A two-year was for sure going to be the least of the punishment, or at least I thought it was before this travesty.
I know…it is unbelievable and sad commentary about how bad the system is and probably has always been. The NCAA is a mess and this latest blunder only underscores it. Sigh. And yes, ECU would have been crucified for less. Punishment needs to 1) fit the crime; 2) truly punish. Neither happened here. Sad but predicted by many on HTC, BYB, and anywhere else you might read.
This piece is dead on RC and this needs to become syndicated in every English speaking newspaper in the world.
Thanks for stopping in BB’s Ghost.
Sometimes I really wish ECU could separate from the UNC system. I have had a hard time looking on the wall at my two ECU degrees and not feel like the mess at Chapel Hill has not somehow detracted from them.
I say the following;
(a) Weak punishment and that’s honestly w/o the purple glasses. The punishment would have been acceptable for either the improper benefits OR the academic fraud, but not both – the Smurfs lucked out and got 2 for 1.
Now for some commentary on the punishment itself –
(b) Scholarships (5 per year/3 years) – kind of laughable. One of those “no scholarships players” will get his ticket punched as a metamorphosed track scholarship, and most of the scholarship players sit on the bench the first year or two anyways, so I don’t think it will hurt there recruiting much.
(c) The bowl ban is a total joke – 1 year – are you kidding me. Yay, we don’t go to the Independence Bowl and play in front of no one for a year, but still get all the bowl revenue that goes into the conference anyway. It’s Fedora’s first year too – how lucky – free pass.
(d) $50,000? – why even bother? That’s a morning’s worth of profits selling ugly Smurf t-shirts at Wal-Mart.
(e) Why did it take so long to reconcile this? I have a dartboard at home – it may have been quicker.
I really hope we carve them up like a jack-o-latern this year on their home gridiron. I really do.
Thanks Pirate for stopping by and putting some heavy meat on the post’s bone. You have detailed exactly why this is a complete slap on the wrist. It is maddening that NCAA would make such a decision and I cannot help but think that UNC’s cozy relationship with the ACC (mainly the ACC head), the BCS, and the NCAA really is at play here, only reinforcing UNC’s behavior going forward. It is a complete and utter joke.