Jaywalkers, beware: NCAA's crack enforcement team could be around corner

Phil Jackman

June 25, 1992|By Phil Jackman

A couple of years ago, a few longhairs got together and authored something called the Constitution. A bit later, they tacked on a Bill of Rights and the country has done pretty well guided by these documents since (relatively speaking).

Subsequently, and again relatively speaking, the NCAA has been in business a short while and yet it has world record problems with its rules, laws, regulations, tenets, statutes, ordinances, commandments, directives, orders, principles, transmutations, guidelines, restrictions, standards, codicils, amendments, revisions, deletions, etc.

Maybe that's what's wrong, excessive governance.

In just a business day or two last week, take a peek at some of the things that stopped the wheels from grinding and brought the organization to its knees for a spell:

* An assistant basketball coach purchased a meal off campus for a community college coach.

That was worth the conference decreeing that the offending coach be precluded from off-campus recruiting for six days. That's a penalty?

* A coach of swimming conducted weight training the day of a meet and a basketball coach staged a practice session after competition.

The first offender was told to cut it out while the second had to donate two days' salary to a local charity.

* A recruit in football exceeded the permissible 48-hour limit for an official paid campus visit when he became ill and required five days of hospitalization.

The NCAA, compassionate bunch that it is, decided it was OK not to pitch the kid out on the street.

* A football assistant visited the educational institution of a prospect twice in the same week (and day), the second trip being to retrieve an article of clothing during which no contact was made with the prospect.

The man was admonished . . . and required to donate the clothing article to a local charity (just kidding).

* A women's soccer coach, in order to get money to cover the expense of her team's competing in a tournament, operated a fund outside control of the school, selling T-shirts.

The NCAA was robbed of the pleasure of dealing with the transgressor when the school itself sent the coach packing (no word on the disposition of the T-shirts).

* A volunteer coach (in Division III, no less) served as a commentator for a telecast of a high school game.

He was commanded to cease and desist or he would be booted out of his non-paying, non-credit post as a volunteer coach.

* A basketball coach made public comments regarding a prospect before the young man signed a letter of intent, thinking that the kid had signed with another institution.

The blabbermouth was not only severely reprimanded, he was admonished and, worse, required to pass a written exam on recruiting legislation before he could resume recruiting.

* A sister-in-law of a football coach picked up a copy of a videotape from a prospect's high school without the coach's permission or knowledge, the woman figuring she would save the guy a trip.

The college was ordered not to recruit at that high school for a year, and the coaching staff was ordered to review pertinent legislation with family members (pets included).

* A football coach and staff members contacted a prospect on the day of competition (a no-no). Seems the kid, a non-basketball player and in the middle of January, was placed on the hoop squad at the last minute because it was short of players.

The prospect informed the college coaches that he did not play basketball, so the NCAA decided no action was necessary.

* An assistant coach, not even recruiting a basketball prospect but a longtime family friend, gave the kid a framed picture.

The NCAA told the coach to go and sin no more, but ruled the prospect is ineligible to play college ball unless eligibility is restored through the organization's appeals process.

As you can plainly see, running the vast empire known as intercollegiate athletics is no day at the beach. Which explains the burning of the midnight oil constantly at NCAA headquarters in Overland Park, Kan.

In lieu of a present-day Solomon to help out with all these weighty decisions, however, the NCAA is reminded of the old saying, "He is governed best who is governed least."

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