The NCAA has used an atom bomb to resolve violations of teams in the past. The decision on the Penn State case was a virtual death penalty. Their regulations make the rules of the IRS look like a kid’s book.
But the NCAA gave Oregon just one lost scholarship per year for three years and no ban on the team’s post season participation. To say that was a shock would be an understatement. The fact that Oregon head coach Chip Kelly chose this year to jump to the NFL indicates that he expected a much more drastic penalty. But as usual, the decision reflects more than it appears. The lack of punishment has as much to do with the damage to the reputation of the NCAA and the power struggle between the NCAA and the growing number of super conferences as it does with what happened at Oregon.
The reputation of the NCAA has taken a few hits in recent years. In 2004 the management of the NCAA was dragged before the US Congress to justify its tax exempt status. That was hard enough on the organization’s reputation. Many felt the penalty on Penn State was overly harsh. I do not feel it was given the nature of the crime and the effort to cover it up by the staff.
Perhaps the biggest issue that damaged the rep of the NCAA was the debacle in the investigation of Miami and to some extent to USC. Both of those cases involved cover-ups within the NCAA. There were procedural issues with the Miami case that were so serious that the NCAA had to admit to them publically.
The other pressure on the NCAA is the growth in number and power of the super conferences. That group effectively pushed the NCAA out of the football playoff denying it a voice and share of the profits. There are also public voices questioning the need for the NCAA at all.
For all of those reasons the NCAA decided to pull in the claws and let Oregon off with a slap on the wrist. Is it fair? No. Was it the politically smart thing to do? Yes.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/. Follow him on twitter @NNRonDSN to get the schedule of Special News, Notes and Rumors broadcasts. You can hear the previous shows on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/.
He also edits http://fryingpanpolitics.org/.
To keep up with the News, Notes & Rumors podcasts, follow me on twitter @NNRonDSN.