Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Here's what the NCAA can learn from Louisville, UNC scandals

Gaming the system? Roy Williams and his Tar Heels.

Getty Images

Gaming the system? Roy Williams and his Tar Heels.

The long-running NCAA investigation into the "paper classes" scandal at North Carolina took a substantial step forward Monday.

According to media reports, UNC received an amended Notice of Allegations from the NCAA relating to its investigation of suspect courses in North Carolina's African- and Afro-American Studies department that disproportionately benefited Tar Heels athletes.

Last May, UNC received its first NOA from the NCAA that alleged five major violations, including lack of institutional control.

Yet only days from the August deadline for North Carolina to respond, the school instead reported that it had found additional evidence of NCAA violations that centered on the actions of a women's basketball academic counselor and men's soccer recruiting violations.

Whatever the intent, that discovery had the effect of delaying any NCAA punishment until after the 2015-16 men's basketball season.

In the meantime, in spite of a university-commissioned report that documents the "phony class scheme," North Carolina has not self-imposed any penalties on itself.

Compare this to the situation at the University of Louisville.

The Cardinals' men's basketball program was rocked before last season by the publication of a book by a self-described "escort queen." Katina Powell alleges that, from 2010-14, an administrative aide in Rick Pitino's program paid her money to supply strippers and escorts to dance for and have sex with players and recruits at "shows" conducted in the school's basketball dormitory.

In response, in February of this year the Louisville administration self-imposed an NCAA Tournament ban that took the Cardinals out of this year's March Madness.

In April, the school announced further self-imposed penalties, including limits on its coaches going off-campus to recruit and the elimination of one men's basketball scholarship in two future seasons.

My questions: How is it fair for one school under investigation to sacrifice its current players, presumably in the hopes it will yield future leniency from the NCAA, while another school under investigation chooses to take exactly the opposite course?

When you have schools essentially using self-imposed sanctions as a means of plea-bargaining for a better deal, does that not create an impression that NCAA "justice" is being dispensed in a manner that is both inconsistent and subject to manipulation?

Here's a radical thought: The NCAA would be better served if it conducted its investigations to the end, let its infractions process run its full course and then imposed penalties itself via a uniform process.

No more "self-imposing" by member schools.

From the NCAA perspective, the appeal of the "self-imposition mechanism" is that the college sports governing body wants its investigations to be collaborative with the schools under scrutiny. By allowing the school some input in how its penalties are doled out, the NCAA provides an incentive for cooperation.

For the schools, self imposing penalties provides the public relations benefit of appearing to take responsibility for alleged wrongdoing.

Yet it also has created incentives for universities to use "self-imposition" to try to game the system.

In most cases, schools sacrifice the present in favor of trying to preserve the future. As Kentucky saw both during the Eddie Sutton-era basketball scandal, the uncertainty that comes with unknown sanctions looming over a program cripples recruiting.

For the schools, it is often better to sacrifice the players you have rather than have the unknown hanging over a program like a guillotine.

The Louisville administration has seemingly acted from that belief. It benched its 2016 men's hoops team — including two fifth-year, graduate transfer students who had picked Louisville specifically for a final chance to make an NCAA Tournament — in hopes of limiting damage to the future.

Syracuse made a similar move during the 2014-15 season. Under a long-running NCAA investigation for academic fraud (among other things), the Orange self-imposed a postseason tournament ban.

That preserved Syracuse's 2015-16 season, and the Orange made a run to the Final Four. However, that decision cost 2015 star Rakeem Christmas a last chance at the postseason.

Conversely, North Carolina did not self-impose sanctions. Additionally, the way UNC responded to the initial Notice of Allegations in its NCAA investigation had the effect — whatever the intent — of protecting its 2015-16 men's basketball season.

In its last-minute discovery of additional rules-breaking, was North Carolina merely reporting what it had found about its women's basketball tutoring and men's soccer recruiting? Or was it a clever bit of "lawyering" to slow the NCAA judicial process and allow the Tar Heels men's basketball team a clear shot at the 2016 national title that many expected it to win?

The image of justice within the NCAA would be better served if "self-imposing sanctions" — or not doing so — was off the table and we didn't have reason to ask those kind of questions.

— Lexington Herald-Leader (TNS)

Here's what the NCAA can learn from Louisville, UNC scandals 04/27/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 27, 2016 9:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up


    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Rays journal: Alex Cobb brilliant, Alex Colome worrying in 10-inning victory (w/video)

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — RHP Alex Cobb couldn't have been much better for the Rays on Tuesday, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning while working eight solid. And Alex Colome couldn't have been much worse, blowing a two-run ninth-inning lead.

    Rays starter Alex Cobb carries a no-hitter into the seventh and pitches eight shutout innings in his best outing of the season.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Pirates game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb continues to look better and better, which could make the decision whether to trade him tougher. Cobb had a no-hitter through six and threw his biggest pitch with a 1-0 lead in the seventh, getting Josh Bell to roll into a double play.

  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park, Pittsburgh

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Blake Snell #4 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)