August 14, 2009
Lost in all this Pitino madness -- which is finally receding, I think; I'm doing a tribal rain dance right now in the hopes of warding off negative Pitino energy, so let's see if it works -- is what the NCAA dropped on Southeast Missouri State University in a conference call with the media Thursday afternoon. Long story short, SEMO's hoops team was slapped with three years of athletic probation, as well as scholarship reductions and vacation of the team's wins from 2006-2008. This ain't no party; this ain't no fooling around.
Why is the NCAA so completely, like, harshing SEMO's mellow? Here's why:
The committee found that the impermissible presence of men's basketball coaching staff members during summer strength and conditioning activities and observation of out-of-season pick-up games occurred in 2006 and 2007. The committee also found that impermissible extra benefits were given to two men's basketball student-athletes: one in the amount of $239 for unpaid institutional fees in August 2007, and the other when the former assistant coach drove a student-athlete 171 miles from campus to Memphis in October 2006.
Yes, you read that correctly: the NCAA dropped the hammer on Southeast Missouri over pickup games, $239 unpaid bookstore money, and three-hour drive to Memphis. Degenerates all.
It's bad enough for SEMO, but there's a larger point here, one Yahoo!'s Dan Wetzel hammered home in a column last September: The NCAA loves to punish the little guys for the slightest of crimes but buries its head in the sand when it comes to major programs. There's no reason to think that small programs cheat any more than the big ones -- in fact, it would seem to follow that the higher the stakes, the greater the incentive to cheat -- and yet the NCAA has uncovered so few major programs for the same violations they're hammering little guys on left and right.
Or maybe all the small schools are cheaters and all the big ones are completely, 100 percent above board. I don't know. I suppose it's possible.*
*No I don't. It's not possible.