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Friday, August 19, 2011

Miami Isn’t the NCAA’s Toughest Decision

In the latest “Biggest Scandal in NCAA History,” the ruling body for college athletics faces some brutally tough decisions.  And most of them don’t directly involve the University of Miami.

I actually refuse to call them “The U” because that nickname somehow implies that the word university has meaning in the football office.

Oh, Miami is the catalyst for all of these decisions.  And the investigators have to decide how to proceed, how much credence to give a convicted felon, how hard they should come down on the program, etc.  And they still have to verify if any of Nevin Shapiro's allegations are true and verifiable.  But those are actually footnotes to the real issue.

Here’s the thing:  This investigation will determine whether or not the NCAA can secure any semblance of credibility and control over college athletics.  It may even determine whether or not the organization continues to exist.  IF Miami is guilty of a majority of the accusations, then the NCAA has to crack down hard on Miami.

If President Mark Emmert and his cohorts come down too easy, they’ll continue to be a barroom joke and fodder for sports pundits.  And colleges will continue to thumb their nose at their so-called “rules.”

The only answer for the NCAA is to give Miami the “Death Penalty.” 

Yes, this penalty punishes the teams around Miami as much as Miami.  But the only way to get those teams to comply is to hit them in the wallet as well.  Abolishing the Miami program is the only way to make Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, and others comply with the rules. 

I’m betting these schools would think twice before they let some high-dollar booster slither around on their sidelines.  Or in their press boxes.  Or in their president’s office.

Yes, taking away Miami’s program could cripple ACC football.  Miami was brought in to make the ACC a football power.  The Canes haven’t even come close to doing that, but they will never do it if they suffer the fate of SMU.

It may even cause schools to get the SEC Commissioner on speed dial if the expansion whispers continue to float in the wind.

Yes, the “Death Penalty” for Miami football will be difficult.  It will enrage a lot of people (particularly ACC people) and create a lot of headaches.  It could well cost the NCAA money, connections, and may even result in legal action of some kind.  This time, the battle is worth fighting. 

This is a defining moment for the NCAA.  They have to decide if they are going to GOVERN college athletics, or if they’re just going to keep monitoring how many jelly packets players use on their bagels.  And yes, that is an NCAA regulation.  For real.

It’s time for the “leaders” of college athletics to stop majoring in the minors and take some real action.  Not that I would know, but decisions involving millions of dollars are surely not easy ones.  Mark Emmert has to evolve into a true leader and take a stand for what is right over what is convenient and profitable. 

Some NCAA rules are ridiculous.  The ones aimed at keeping sleazy tools who run Ponzi schemes away from college athletes are not among them.

As is often the case, the right path here is a difficult one to follow.  The toughest decisions for the NCAA are not about what path to take with Miami.  They are about what path it is going to choose for itself.

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