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Friday, February 22, 2013

Miami Could Be the First Domino for the NCAA

I try not to be "that guy" who overreacts to events in sports. I'm not willing to say that LeBron is greater than Michael Jordan. I'm not ready to declare mixed martial arts or soccer as the next big thing in the US. And I'm certainly not ready to put Joe Flacco as the best QB in the NFL (and he certainly shouldn't be the highest-paid one).

I'm also not ready to say that the NCAA is dead because of their colossal blunder in its investigation of "The U" in the University of program. But I'm awfully close, with every article drawing me closer to such declaration.

For several years, I've argued that one of two things can tumble the NCAA:  Internal corruption, or a legal challenge from the big-time schools. The Miami investigation gives us both.

NCAA President Mark Emmert now has on his desk an investigation that was corrupt and possibly illegal. Now, University of Miami president Donna Shalayla seems ready to challenge Emmert’s authority.

As a minister by trade, I often hear critics who say the church is just full of hypocrites. It’s a valid criticism; but compared to the NCAA, the church look like, well, choir boys.

There is no greater hypocrisy than Emmert using terms like “student athlete” and “lack of institutional control,” when wielding power over an organization that is more of a slave to money than a Las Vegas casino. And that slavery is making it just as corrupt as the programs that it “investigates.”

Miami is talking tough about challenging those investigations, in light of the undisputed ethics violations of Emmert’s team of attack dogs. For the record, their assessment of the Miami program is probably right. Shalayla hasn’t been presiding over an athletic department so much as a TKE party, going all the way back to the "kickoff" event for that party.

But when the investigation of your program involves blatantly unethical (if not illegal) conduct by the governing body, you have plenty of reason to bow your neck and challenge the system. That’s exactly what Miami is set to do, and there's no sign of anyone backing down.

Big-time athletic programs already view the NCAA much like the public views the IRS. They take money that isn’t necessarily theirs for things that may not be that important; and they give money that “we” earned to people who don’t really deserve it.

Pretty soon, those programs are going to decide that they don’t need the NCAA and they can do their own thing, at least in football and basketball. They can run their own programs and keep all the money without anyone else's approval. 

All it's going to take is one legal challenge, one "don't mess with Texas" attitude, one president who is willing to say that they're not going to take it anymore. The NCAA will watch all of their influence--and, more importantly to them, their money--walk right out the door.

It may not happen soon, and it may not even happen with Miami. But a legal challenge from Shalala and South Beach is definitely causing the first domino to rock back and forth. If it happens to fall, then plenty of others will follow suite.

Emmert might be wise to call it a day and walk away from Miami, no matter how corrupt the program actually was (perhaps "is"). Otherwise his organization may not hold up to a challenge from a program like the 'Canes, much less a bigger one. If Miami can make a run at them, can you imagine what Texas or Alabama or USC might do?

The NCAA would do better to walk away with its tail between its legs. Yes, it would look like they are selling out for money and a desire to maintain power, but that ship sailed a long time ago. Is there any point in trying to maintain the illusion that they are benevolent and concerned about anything other than themselves?

Might be better to just admit who you are and keep what you already have.

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