NCAA strikes a much needed blow against injustice, SEMOST style

 

“The NCAA hasn’t busted a single big-time men’s basketball program in nearly two years. It hasn’t nailed a major football program in nearly 15 months. It’s the longest stretch of compliance for the once iron-fisted organization in 46 years and the second longest ever according to an analysis of the NCAA’s major infractions database.”

- Dan Wetzel, in a must read piece NCAA naps during golden age of cheating from September 24, 2008.

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Tip of the hat to Deadspin for highlighting the NCAA’s pursuit for justice against the basketball powerhouse Southeast Missouri State today. (Link) The Redhawks now join the likes of Middle Tennessee State volleyball and Texas Southern tennis as recent NCAA problem children.

The NCAA has thrown the book at Southeast Missouri State basketball, vacating all their men’s basketball wins from 2006-2008 because an assistant gave impermissible benefits to a player—by giving him a lift home to see his newborn baby.

Oh, it gets much more evil. Another basketball player received money to cover his unpaid “institutional fees.” How much money? $239 dollars. Coaches also committed the crime of “observation of out-of-season pick-up games” and offseason weightlifting. That’s three years probation for you. Oh, and coach Scott Edgar—who has already been fired—was given a “show-cause” penalty that pretty much means he can’t work for the next three years, because he is obviously a menace.

The women’s basketball team got it too, because a booster paid the tuition of a former player. A player who had used up all her eligibility, but was one semester away from finishing her degree and couldn’t get financial aid. Student-athletes: Good. Students?: Fuck them.

Thank goodness Southeast Missouri State is being put its place. I feel safer already.

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The moment I saw this my mind immediately clicked west and thought of the USC Trojans. Evidently I wasn’t the only one:

Southeast Missouri State was hit hard today by the NCAA with a three-year probation based on impermissible benefits for players, illegal observation of players during a dead period, and unethical conduct by their previous head coach, Scott Edgar. Normally we wouldn’t do a separate post about this, but listen to what the ‘impermissible benefits’ on the men’s side amounted to: a one-time institutional fee paid on a player’s behalf for $239, and a one-time car ride by an assistant coach for 171 miles. Um, yeah, good work there, NCAA. SEMO will take a one-scholarship penalty for the 2009-10 season and will have to vacate all of its 2006-07 and 2007-08 wins from its record. It’s good to see that the NCAA gumshoes are completely on top of these scofflaws! So… um… what’s the latest on Reggie Bush and OJ Mayo, Mr. Brand?

The following are a few articles and some selected text about USC’s current dose of ‘double trouble’ that the world continues to wait to see resolved:

(1) NCAA needs to throw the book at USC by Michael Rosenberg.

(2) Double Trouble lands USC atop of era’s cheat sheet by Gregg Doyel (you know that we have to feel passionate about something to link to this bozo).

There have been dirtier college football programs. Southern Methodist with its Pony Expre$$ comes to mind. Oklahoma and all the hell that was breaking loose under Barry Switzer. Almost any of the schools coached by Jackie Sherrill.

There have been dirtier college basketball programs. Kentucky in the late 1980s with bulging Emery envelopes and bogus SAT test scores. California with Todd Bozeman. Baylor and that serpent, Dave Bliss.

But there has never been a dirtier combination of college football and college basketball programs, at the same time, than the Southern California Trojans.

This is cartoon stuff, the massive, two-sport improprieties being investigated at USC. This is Todd Bozeman meets Bobby Bowden. This is one coach being accused of outright cheating, and another coach being accused of not knowing, or wanting to know, the cheating happening with his players.

This is the most scandalous athletic program of this era. And that’s saying something. So the question to ask right now is not this one: Who should be fired at USC?

The question is this: Who shouldn’t?

And USC looks like the textbook definition of “lack of institutional control.” This is the worst charge the NCAA can level. It means you didn’t care about the rules.

So what does USC do, with its basketball and football programs under siege? Ideally, athletic director Mike Garrett would be disgusted by what has happened to his alma mater. But if Garrett were capable of that, we would have seen it already.

Garrett must know the Trojans can’t skate on this one. And don’t be surprised if USC tries to sacrifice basketball, and Tim Floyd, to save Pete Carroll and the football program.

There is, of course, always the chance that the NCAA botches this completely — that NCAA investigators file a harsh report but the always-dubious Infractions Committee gives USC a Get Out of Jail Free card.

If that happens, the NCAA should change its logo to a mouth without teeth. This case is a litmus test for the entire NCAA. The evidence is there. Let’s see what the NCAA does about it.

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When it comes to NCAA issues and basketball programs, no fan base in the country has been more negatively impacted through the years by a peverse and disproportionate amount of punishment compared to the crime than NC State University. (Note that I do not blame the NCAA for any of our own self-imposed mis-management beginning around 1990. We own that as an institution of idiots.)

It is NC State that on two different occassions lost our footing as a major national power (late 1950s and 1990) for excessive punishments related to indescretions that ‘everybody was doing’ – including the harshest penalties in the history of the NCAA (to that point) in 1957 because alleged illegal payments made to Jackie Moreland that were never actually proven.

Additionally, it wouldn’t take an IQ over 90 to argue that the Wolfpack program lost a National Championship in 1973 because of ridiculous penalties levied because an assistant coach was ruled to have held illegal ‘try-outs’ for the nation’s top high school player (David Thompson) after playing in summertime pick-up basketball games on campus. To this day nobody has ever explained how a coach could be ‘trying out’ the nation’s most heavily recruited player who had already signed his scholarship papers and was scheduled to begin classes in the coming month.

To be fair, I guess I shouldn’t limit my previous comments to ‘on the basketball court’ should I? Don’t forget that it was NC State’s 1957 football team that was forced to miss (what would have been) our only appearance in the Orange Bowl in 1958 because of the basketball program. Could you imagine this kind of justice in sunny Southern California?

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This link to Mike DeCourcy’s 10 Biggest College Basketball Coaching Scandals couldn’t have been more timely! Although, I struggle with the omission of Eddie Sutton and the Kentucky Wildcats of the 1980s.

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25 Responses to NCAA strikes a much needed blow against injustice, SEMOST style

  1. Wufpacker 08/18/2009 at 6:31 AM #

    From the quoted Doyel piece:
    “There is, of course, always the chance that the NCAA botches this completely — that NCAA investigators file a harsh report but the always-dubious Infractions Committee gives USC a Get Out of Jail Free card.”

    If the USC football program suffers any serious sanctions (forfeiture of past wins/championships, loss of scholarships, post-season ban, etc.) I will be shocked. I just don’t think the NCAA is going to take a chance on handicapping themselves financially by cutting one of their big earners off at the knees. They will find any way, reasonable or otherwise, to avoid doing so. It is very likely that USC basketball will be the sacrificial lamb, though that is not to say that they don’t have it coming, and Tim Floyd should practically have to face criminal charges. Fortunately for the NCAA the punishment they hand down to USC basketball will likely be deserved.

    But I’ll be very surprised if it goes beyond that at USC. The football program MIGHT receive a letter of concern, or some such other triviality that will be of no consequence or deterrent. And, of course, they (the NCAA) will continue to look the other way while other big earners, in both football and basketball, continue to interpret the rules liberally, if they chose to follow them at all.

    And this farce with SEMO St., is just preposterous. Talk about overkill. I don’t know much about their institution but my first thought when I first read about this a couple days ago was not about the USC situation, but rather what SEMO St. had done to piss off the NCAA and become the NC State of the Ohio Valley Conference, and maybe all of Div I-AA.

  2. Noah 08/18/2009 at 7:44 AM #

    We were the last program to ever be handed a major punishment that exceeded the crime.

    The NCAA just hands out parking tickets these days. Look at Alabama’s punishment in football. They had an assistant coach delivering $50,000 to a high school coach for a def. tackle and they just got a slap on the wrist. Not a booster doing this…an effing coach.

  3. choppack1 08/18/2009 at 8:38 AM #

    What is it some coach (either Tarkanian or someone else) – the NCAA is so mad at Kentucky, they’re going to give SW Missouri State another 2 years of proboation!

  4. LRM 08/18/2009 at 8:54 AM #

    This will undoubtedly solve that pesky problem of having too many mid-majors making the NCAAT.

  5. Clarksa 08/18/2009 at 9:24 AM #

    “What is it some coach (either Tarkanian or someone else) – the NCAA is so mad at Kentucky, they’re going to give SW Missouri State another 2 years of proboation!”

    I think this was Roy’s punishment for either the graduation gifts at Kansas, or observing practice…er…pick up game with a presidential candidate.

  6. Alpha Wolf 08/18/2009 at 10:06 AM #

    “They had an assistant coach delivering $50,000 to a high school coach for a def. tackle and they just got a slap on the wrist.”

    Slap on the wrist?

    The NCAA gave them five years’ probation, a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 21 scholarships over three years. The Infractions committee also strongly hinted that if the Tide committed another major violation during the five-year period, it was very likely that it would get the death penalty.

  7. ruffles31 08/18/2009 at 10:24 AM #

    And for Alabama, it wasn’t $50,000 dollars. It was $250,000.

  8. RickJ 08/18/2009 at 10:35 AM #

    Most old time State fans are somewhat familiar with the Jackie Moreland story. What has been lost over time was that he was the centerpiece of an incredible five player class that was easily the best Everett Case ever recruited. This freshman team beat the hell out of the varsity in a preseason game open to the public. For years Case proclaimed this was a tactical error on his part to play this game. He claimed that before this game was played the ACC office was working very hard for State in their case before the NCAA. After the game, he said the ACC’s help completely stopped. All five of these players including Moreland transferred in the second semester of their freshman year.

  9. Alpha Wolf 08/18/2009 at 10:44 AM #

    ^ UNC won their first legit national title shortly thereafter.

    And so it goes.

  10. Alpha Wolf 08/18/2009 at 10:47 AM #

    “And for Alabama, it wasn’t $50,000 dollars. It was $250,000.”

    Noah is correct, it was $50,000.

    USA TODAY, 2/2002: NCAA Rolls Crimson Tide

    The university contended that accusations of a $20,000 payment to prospect Kenny Smith in the mid-1990s fell outside the governing body’s statute of limitations.

    Alabama officials also argued the NCAA couldn’t prove that high school coaches for Memphis prospect Albert Means received money to steer the defensive lineman to Alabama, or that any money was linked to Tide booster Logan Young.

    But the NCAA said a booster agreed to give Means’ coach $115,000 to get Means to sign with Alabama and said three payments of $10,000 were made.

    Means signed with the Tide, but has since transferred to Memphis. Young, a Memphis businessman, was one of the boosters dissociated from the university. He has denied any wrongdoing in the recruiting of Means.

  11. GAWolf 08/18/2009 at 11:01 AM #

    This is absurd.

    The NCAA falls right in there with insurance companies at the top spot on my list of “Evil Entities People Unfortunately Ignore”. Both of them are equally beholden to the almighty dollar with zero concern for those who are victims of the atrocities that derive therefrom… and nobody else with any authority seems to do anything about it. The insurance companies spend huge amounts of money on lobbyists to influence governmental affairs. What about the NCAA? The first link to pop up on my google search was this interesting piece:

    Education in the News Examiner

    Slam dunk for NCAA lobbying dollars by higher education institutions (July 6, 9:36)

    Higher education now finds itself in the spotlight for lobbying its dollars and “favors” in Washington. Is this on the up-and-up and what are the motives behind the universities and colleges to lobby in Washington?

    It’s really not uncommon for higher education to lobby and make campaign contributions to politicians. For example, Barack Obama received $22 million from education donors during his 2008 campaign. John McCain also received contributions from higher education institutions.

    Certainly the campaign contributions and lobbying by educational institutions are in pursuit of federal money, research grants, student financial aid and other resources for its schools, right?

    According to the New York Times, money contributions are not the only favors given to politicians in exchange for federal benefits. It is a luxury for universities to have the ability to lobby with “structure-naming” as alternative currency. For example, the University of Kansas has named numerous buildings after Republican Bob Dole, who helped provide federal money for the buildings’ construction. It’s a little hammy, but I guess vanity stroking is good compensation for a millionaire.

    Each year, the NCAA chooses 64 teams to compete for the national basketball championship in the NCAA tournament. How do they choose these 64 teams? Well there’s some speculation about how this is decided. The “bracket sheet” publicly reported the NCAA accepted universities that spent money lobbying in Washington and the amounts. It turns out that only 9 of the 64 teams in the NCAA tournament reported zero lobbying dollars. The other 55 teams had all made contributions to political parties and politicians, as reported by the bracket sheet. Of the 9 remaining teams on the docket, there have been speculation of side-deals and favors as currency.

    What benefit does the NCAA universities hope for by lobbying Washington and spending their money on political campaigns? The universities are in pursuit of research funding, financial aid for students and other federal money. Colleges and universities have become the cash cow of Washington lobbyists. There might be a bit more to this controversy.

    Are campaign contributions by NCAA institution linked to seeds or admission into the tournament?

    The evidence shows that other favors and other cross-benefits are occurring between universities and politicians. The University of Oklahoma and the University of Miami both have current presidents who were former politicians, who received campaign contributions from the universities where they are employed today. Furthermore, there is a student-inspired backing of a candidate by the university for politicians who have made contributions to that school.

    I think that solves the mystery of why politicians champion various higher education earmarks.

    The total number of campaign contributions have soared in 2008 compared to earlier years by about $2 billion. The contributions went from $500 million to $2.25 billion in only ten years, from 1998 to 2008. Is this the wave of the future? At this rate, universities can’t not … uh … afford to not … not to contribute to campaigns. You know what I mean.

    What does the NCAA get out of it? Special consideration for admission into the NCAA tournament. Dare I say it? Villanova University is the lowest-seeded team to make the Final Four tournament, though it spent zero lobbying dollars in Washington last year, Gerald Cassidy, an alumni does free lobbying and cross benefit deals.

    What is a bracket sheet? It’s the public report of campaign contributions. Massie Ritsch, who helped develop and distribute the Center for Responsive Politics’ bracket sheet, warned that any connection between lobbying and NCAA seeds will only prove so much. Mr. Ritsch’s motto “follow the money” is in direct eye-line of Washington politics, which he has proven can be linked to many things, including the NCAA tournament. Mr. Ritsch,a former reporter for the Los Angeles Times, now contributes his bracket sheet reports, which evidence campaign contributions, to http://www.opensecrets.org.

    http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2009/03/k-street-college-classic.html
    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0309/20688_Page2.html
    http://paw.princeton.edu/issues/2008/09/24/pages/5694/

  12. GAWolf 08/18/2009 at 11:12 AM #

    If you’ll click on that second “Open Secrets” link you’ll see a bracket of ’09 NCAA Tournament teams based on money spent on lobbying. Who made it to the final game?

    USC, of course!

  13. choppack1 08/18/2009 at 11:16 AM #

    funny GA – my list has 3 values;
    1) Personal Injury Attorneys
    2) NCAA
    3) ACC basketball officials

  14. GAWolf 08/18/2009 at 11:27 AM #

    PI attorneys who prosecute frivolous claims are certainly a piece of the Insurance Company monster. So I can’t totally disagree with you. Then again, if insurance companies weren’t like the bookie who refuses to pay out on his bad bets more times than not, then there would be many less PI attorneys.

    If you’re in the insurance business, I’m sorry if I offended you. I have no problem with the individuals who work for them… especially agents.

    There’s just a reason why insurance companies have been complete cash cows over the last 25 years. They make too much money because they aren’t run ethically. They’re in the risk-loss business but either never want to pay out or they want to raise your rates if they do. Hence the bookie analogy.

  15. Texpack 08/18/2009 at 11:51 AM #

    Alcohol sales will be banned in the French Quarter before the NCAA opens an investigation into the USC Football program, much less imposes actual sanctions. This is such a clear case of looking the other way that it destroys any molecule of credibility that was left in the NCAA enforcement division. Has any member of the media challenged Miles “Holier Than Thou” Brand or any of his flunkies about the status of the USC Football program during a press conference?

    I still remember Coach Sloan going over the list of violations cited by the NCAA with those of us in attendance at his basketball camp during the summer of 1973. In the days before the internet it wasn’t that easy to get the straight story with any detail. The press always said “recruiting violations involving David Thompson” which for most people implied illegal payments of some sort. Sorry, but this one still really pisses me off.

  16. choppack1 08/18/2009 at 11:57 AM #

    GA – there definitely are plenty of “bad actors” out there. But there are plenty of ethical ones. Unfortunately, 2 of the largest are 2 of the worst. I’d blame it on a system where “customer service” can be justified so its extremely one-sided, ergo, my insured says this, so I have to believe him…

  17. TomPack 08/18/2009 at 12:43 PM #

    Don’t forget the UCLA Bruins basketball program for dirtiest ever. From the dynasty years of John Wooden using Sam Gilbert to buy players to the probations finally given to them following the Larry Brown vacated Final Four. If you want a list of current schools that will never get any real punishment: USC, UNC, Notre Dame, Georgetown (basketball-see Iverson, Allen), and Florida simply because they fill the NCAA coffers. I am sure this is a list to be added to but these are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

  18. GAWolf 08/18/2009 at 12:49 PM #

    I didn’t know much about Brand prior to today, so I’ll sum up my research on him and my overall perception of the man for those of you, like me, who are not as well-informed on all things NCAA like some of the folks around here.

    Miles Brand, to me, is your quintessential academic. He got a PhD in Philosophy and never worked anywhere other than academia from what I can gather. I’d just like to reiterate the fact that the focus of his work is in philosophy. Philosophy. Is there a group more likely to be more against the real-world-applications of practical abilities, training and education than someone who has spent his life learning about philosophy? It’s often the philosopher’s duty to avoid the practical for the peculiar.

    He’s waged war against athletics in the name of academics everywhere he’s been with notable career achievements including the firing of Bobby Knight from Indiana and the attack on schools with names that involve Native American “stereotypes”. Interestingly enough he and the NCAA pounced on the little-known North Dakota Fighting Sioux yet passively condoned the traditions of the big money, powerhouse Florida State Seminoles. So the irony of the blind eye toward USC and the attack on poor little SEMOST, isn’t really his first rodeo as President of the NCAA.

    He followed Cedric Dempsey, whose background was that of an athlete and AD, as President of the NCAA like a spitting image of Gordon “CHEEEEEEEESE” Pritchard, Jeremy Piven’s character as the new academically-minded Dean in Old School who waged war against all things… well… fun. Like Dean Pritchard, Brand seems to be “that guy” who maybe didn’t make a sports team growing up and his revenge is nigh.

    I can totally see one of the thousands of Hoosier students and alumni who protested in front of his home after the firing of Knight looking at Myles Brand while hungover and saying, “Hey Cheeeeese, didn’t we leave you in a dumpster?”

    “YEAH BUT I GOT OUT!!!”

  19. b 08/18/2009 at 1:45 PM #

    “What is it some coach (either Tarkanian or someone else) – the NCAA is so mad at Kentucky, they’re going to give SW Missouri State another 2 years of proboation!”

    It was a Tark joke when he was at Long Beach State (the 1st time), and was related to John Wooden and the myriad of broken rules that program rode to its unmatched dynasty.

    Tark once quipped the NCAA threatened UCLA by saying if you don’t quit breaking the rules we’ll be forced to put LBSU on probation.

    The NCCA seems to be waiting on the USC situation in hopes it will turn up a Logan Young character they can crucify to avoid hitting a flagship institution with anything more than a token penalty.

    My pops, who is a diehard Tide fan, tells a joke about the Logan Young story like this: Fat Fulmer sang to the NCAA when his payment plan for Means was outbid by Brother Young (Fulmer lost a whopping TWO scholarships for payments made to Alabama recruit Eric Locke). It also amazes me that these violations are usually found out over what turn out to be mediocre players.

    I still can’t figure out how UT avoided more trouble from the Tee Martin scandal, which was ingenious if not overly lucrative. Apparently Martin’s car insurance policy paid out several payments for damages to his vehicle. None of which were supported with a police report or repair bills. The insurance company who paid out actually sued the agent who made the payments for embezzlement, but the NCAA found “No violations were commited”. The Vehicle was a brand spanking new Expedition BTW.

    The SEC is a den of thieves whose mundane indiscretions make the worst violations State ever committed look like jaywalking.

  20. MatSci94 08/18/2009 at 1:58 PM #

    “yet passively condoned the traditions of the big money, powerhouse Florida State Seminoles”

    As I remember, the NCAA decided not to pursue FSU for the mascot thing after FSU threatened to sue (and they have a pretty good law school there). The rule as written by the NCAA specifically mentioned Pembroke, with its traditional connection to an (Lumbee?) Indian tribe. FSU (supposedly, I have no idea) also had a long standing connection to the Seminole tribe, and the resulting legal battle was not going to be pretty for the NCAA in terms of public opinion.

    In retrospect, this may even be a better example of the hypocrisy of the NCAA with regards to money and ‘powerful’ schools.

  21. packpowerfan 08/18/2009 at 3:10 PM #

    I thought that the actual Seminole nation backed keeping their tribe as FSU’s mascot. After all, FSU has had stellar relations with the tribe since beginning use of that mascot. The “Lumbee Tribe” did the same, though they are not recognized as a legal Native American tribe, and probably never will be due to the massive opposition from the Cherokees in western NC.

  22. GAWolf 08/18/2009 at 3:12 PM #

    You are correct Matt. The NCAA opined that since FSU had an agreement of sorts with Seminole Nation that it was “in honor” as opposed to “derogatory”….which is ridiculously stupid. The point is the NCAA sets bullshit rules and enforces them with prejudice and difference as it suits the Association’s interests..

  23. Alpha Wolf 08/19/2009 at 9:11 AM #

    “the NCAA sets bullshit rules and enforces them with prejudice and difference as it suits the Association’s interests..”

    Amen.

  24. NCSU88 08/20/2009 at 9:00 AM #

    Looks like Memphis is getting slammed for 2007-2008 Basketball Season.

    Derrick Rose was ruled ineligible. Details here.

    http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2009/aug/19/source-memphis-tigers-will-forfeit-2008s-record-ba/

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