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‘They do it too’ is no excuse

April 6, 2011
By BRENT SOBLESKI - Sports writer (bsobleski@heraldstaronline.com) , The Herald-Star

Does anyone remember the same tired rhetorical question parents often use to describe peer pressure?

"Well if your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?"

Yet, it's with this same mentality that invested fans have continually used to excuse their favorite collegiate sports programs from wrongdoing, and it is appalling.

"Everyone does it."

The above statement simply isn't an acceptable excuse pertaining to amateur athletics. Breaking the rules, whether perceived as inconsequentional to borderline idiotic, is still breaking the rules.

As more and more accusations continue to fly around the nation regarding these high-revenue sports, it has seemingly become more acceptable to adhere to "if you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'."

Not a single person is naive enough to believe in the pure integrity of the game in today's culture, but once caught it's time to own the misuse of power and not lay blame elsewhere.

During a recent radio interview on ESPN radio - for example - a host discussed recent revelations into recruiting violations which will see newly crowned national championship coach Jim Calhoun suspended for three Big East contests next season. The local Hartford journalist being interviewed lambasted the NCAA because the governing body "gets to pick and choose who they investigate."

That is absolutely right, but it does not excuse anything regarding Calhoun's innocence, or lack thereof, in his particular situation.

The Connecticut basketball program and its improprieties aren't the only shining example of athletic infidelity with its governing body.

In recent weeks Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel was found to have intentionally hid the truth from the NCAA when a handeful of his players had accepted added benefits in exchange for gear.

BCS national champions, the Auburn Tigers, have smoke billowing out of their facilities with all the accusations currently circling their football organization.

Much like the United States' judicial system, a precedent has been set within NCAA guidelines in nearly all of these cases which would make any individual case of unfairness moot.

On Oct. 8, 2009, Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant was suspended for the entire football season because he had lied to the NCAA after visiting the home of former NFL great and future Hall of Famer Deion Sanders.

Obviously, the Tressell situation differs in certain regards, but the two instances share the same bottom line. When each were approached by the NCAA and questioned about the circumstances, they lied.

Tressell has since attempted to save face by increasing his university-mandated suspension. It isn't enough. The coach should, at the very least, receive the same consequences of a year-long suspension. If anything a coach should be held at a higher standard than a player. He doesn't necessarily need to be fired over the situation, but an example must be sent to deter others.

Meanwhile, the smoking gun hasn't quite been found regarding the accusations being lobbed towards Auburn's program. The NCAA skirted the potential sale of eventual Heisman Trophy winner, Cam Newton, and his tremendous talent by laying the blame at his father. Why? A legitimate paper trail could not be found.

If the recent football philandering is found to be true then look no further than Southern California or even Indiana's hardcourts. Both programs have had their scholarships limited as well as other limiting factors regarding recruitment. Even the death penalty (a complete shutdown of a sports program) was eventually warranted at Southern Methodist and may eventually parallel the abuse of the system found in the south's football crazed culture.

Finally, Calhoun has been recently accused of lying about how a recruit was treated as the Huskies trailed his talent. Tennessee's Bruce Pearl was suspended most of this past season and eventually fired over lesser consistent abuses of the process.

NCAA athletics are a perfect example of the trickle down theory.

Certainly, issues pertaining to Connecticut basketball or Ohio State and Auburn football receive higher priority than the Akron Zips, for example, or any Division II or III program.

The top programs in power conferences are at the pinnacle of sport and the copious revenue make them the trendsetters.

Thus, they live under tighter scrutiny. As a result they should be required to set a better example for everyone else.

Instead, these teams have been successful skirting the rules and, unfortunately, too many fans accept all of these examples as part of the process. It isn't, and don't be surprised with the NCAA comes rapping at the door looking to pull banners down from the girders.

 
 

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