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Jeff Eisenberg

A parking pass puts Vanderbilt forward in the NCAA's crosshairs

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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At a time when rogue agents, unscrupulous coaches and money-hungry AAU coaches have besieged college basketball, NCAA investigators have finally launched a crackdown to rid the sport of corruption.

They've caught Vanderbilt forward Lance Goulbourne red-handed.

Goulbourne's egregious crime is purchasing an on-campus 2009-10 parking pass at no discount in August 2009 from a senior manager who is no longer with the team. Since that particular parking lot is only available to seniors and the NCAA considers the manager to be a staff member, the parking pass is viewed as a potential extra benefit and Goulbourne has been suspended indefinitely.

Vanderbilt already lost Goulbourne for last week's victory over Middle Tennessee State as a result of the suspension. A school spokesman said Wednesday afternoon that the 6-foot-8 junior forward has yet to be cleared to participate in a crucial non-conference matchup with Marquette on Wednesday night.

"Not only is it something that happened last year, but it's a very minor, minor thing," Goulbourne told the Nashville Tennessean on Tuesday. "I don't understand how that's a violation. But the NCAA has its rules."

Just the very fact that Vanderbilt even bothered to self-report this potential violation should earn the school lenience from the NCAA.

Vanderbilt discovered the violation when Goulbourne was recently double-billed for a parking ticket he received last year. In the process of clarifying that the ticket had already been paid, Vanderbilt officials learned that his parking pass was in another name and notified the school's compliance office.

If Goulbourne is not cleared in time for Wednesday's game against Marquette, the Commodores will likely turn to fellow forwards Rod Odom and Andre Walker to fill his playing time. Goulbourne has averaged 8.7 points and 6.7 boards in 22.8 minutes per game so far this season.

An innocuous case involving Goulbourne certainly won't draw the media attention of incidents involving Auburn's Cam Newton or Ohio State's Terrell Pryor, but this is just as much of an example of the NCAA's lack of common sense as those are.

Instead of wasting time and resources investigating something that is clearly insignificant if not flat-out irrelevant, the NCAA needs to allow Goulbourne back on the court immediately.

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