Joe Coughlin

Miami Ruling Another Black Eye For NCAA

Created on Oct. 25, 2013 2:26 PM EST

Tuesday morning's groan wasn’t just the collective morning grunts of those who irrationally stayed up to watch Josh Freeman throw passes to the turf on Monday Night Football.

The noises spawned from the cities of Columbus, Ohio, and Los Angeles where Buckeyes and Trojans fans scoffed at the penalties the NCAA handed down to the University of Miami.

The NCAA slapped the Hurricanes with the loss of nine scholarships over three years after a 2 1/2-year investigation into a decade of cheating. The NCAA’s Committee on Infractions cited a Miami administration that “enabled a culture of noncompliance” as booster Nevin Shapiro’s wallet ran roughshod through the Hurricanes’ basketball and football rosters for years.

Comparatively, the NCAA gashed USC with a two-year bowl ban, loss of 30 scholarships, four years probation and more after the organization found infractions and benefits given to star athlete Reggie Bush (as well as basketball star O.J. Mayo).

The Ohio State Buckeyes lost postseason play courtesy of a 2011 announcement from the COI, as well as three recruits annually for three years, and OSU was hit with a three-year probation (ending December 2014). The Buckeyes were also in offense of unethical conduct and negligence after players sold memorabilia, and others took money from a booster. The COI also penalized coach Jim Tressel, who OSU already fired. If the coach is hired, he is suspended for the first five games and any postseason play.

One of these is not like the other.

Miami's slap on the wrist came as a slap to the face for OSU and USC, two teams who have been trudging through their penalty-filled seasons. 

Miami got its light penalty for a couple reasons:

1. It imposed strict sanctions on itself, banning its football team from postseason play for two seasons (2011, 2012). It was a self-inflicted punishment the NCAA called “unprecedented.”

2. The NCAA botched its marathon-like investigation into Miami; therefore, the sanctions sort of offset NCAA failures.

The announcement against Miami is another dose of bad medicine from the NCAA, an organization that loses trust and credibility on a monthly, if not weekly, basis. The group has become known for inconsistencies, corruption, arrogance and greed.

Consistency just isn’t important to the NCAA — that isn’t a critique. Talking about the Miami ruling, Britton Banowsky, chairman of the COI, told the press: “We don’t do a great deal of comparative analysis.”

Why the heck not?

Precedent is a cornerstone of this nation’s judicial system, but it’s not good enough for the NCAA? The comment by Banowsky is a microcosm of the arrogance shown by a governing body that laughs at the notion of paying student-athletes. The same bite-less entity that justifiably came down hard on Penn State before backtracking and gutlessly revoking some of its own sanctions. Rememeber when Johnny Manziel had to sit out one half, while Dez Bryant (for going to dinner) had to sit out 10 games?

Yes, Miami gave itself a severe timeout, but a consequence to that was the Hurricanes admitted guilt. They wouldn’t punish themselves if they did nothing wrong. So, why do they deserve leeway after a decade worth of cheating that involved numerous players and ignorant coaches and administration?

It shouldn’t make anyone feel better that the punishment was an apology from the NCAA for mishandling an investigation that marred the Hurricanes for nearly three years. It should make people feel worse that the NCAA is so mismanaged when it comes to punishments it may as well be throwing darts at carnival balloons.

That’s not actually true. As always, the NCAA knows what it is doing, and it is doing what's best for the NCAA with little regard to integrity. It’s become standard operating procedure for every decision, from sanctions to bowl games.

Decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis. I do not disagree. But there must be consistency. Without it rules are less enforceable and recognizable.

The NCAA keeps digging itself deeper and deeper into public scrutiny. So much so, there are rumors of major overhaul and change. One can only hope.

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