Where did the purity go?
Aren’t college sports supposed to be some of the purest sporting events around? I know, the NCAA has changed all that — I’m mostly just thinking aloud right now. But imagine, for instance, a college basketball game. Any game, any team, any venue. If you’re of my generation or born anytime before 1980, let me try and guess what you thought of. Assembly Hall at Indiana with coach Bob Knight stalking the sideline? How about Cameron Indoor with the Duke fans screaming, right on top of opposing players? Maybe you went way back to the great John Wooden teams and pictured a jam-packed Pauley Pavilion.
Those places represent what college basketball is in our minds — that’s purity. Whether that’s a reality of the sport anymore is up for debate. Well, scratch that. It’s not up for debate — the game has devolved away from that. Now when kids think college basketball they think of the “one-and-dones”, who are nameless for the real fans because there’s no time for these players to build into our psyche and our encyclopedic minds; they think of Final Fours in these humungous domed stadiums, where the court looks completely dwarfed by the surroundings; they think of fast-paced, no defense, no fundamentals and everyone thinking they have the range of Steph Curry or the strength and force of LeBron James.
It’s a far cry from the college basketball I remember — the basketball that the purists fondly recall.
We could get into the countless reasons it’s gone, but who has that kind of time? From the creation of the 3-point line to the 30-second shot clock to the aforementioned 1-and-done rule, there are many factors that have left this game in the state it’s currently in.
Instead, let’s talk about what makes the NCAA, as an entity, absolutely laughable and examine one particular case that demonstrates how time after time after time the NCAA is driven by all the wrong things, consequently, ripping any remaining shreds of purity that may still exist in collegiate sports.
I’m going to throw a name out there — Jalen Hayes. Most won’t know his name even though he’s the best player on his team in Rochester, MI at Oakland University — and that’s how the NCAA likes it. (Well, they sort of like it — they like the headline that they handed down discipline, but they hope you don’t do any digging. God forbid fans get to the bottom of why student-athletes are suspended by the NCAA.)
Hayes missed the first four games of the season because, as I said, the NCAA suspended him. The 6’7″ forward took a class last Spring and only earned a 2.5 and the university requires a 2.8 in Hayes’s human resources development major. Because he failed to hit that expectation, the credit did not count, leaving Hayes short of the NCAA-required 18 credit hours (from Fall to end of Spring) — and, thus, the NCAA said he “failed to make satisfactory progress toward a degree”.
Mind you, Hayes did not fail the course — in lay terms he earned a C+ but needed a B-. But because he chose a major that actually has an academic expectation for its students (athletes included) — we see you North Carolina — the NCCA took the opportunity to pounce all over this case and rule Hayes ineligible for the entire semester.
Did I mention the young man is on track to graduate this month? Yet, according to the NCAA, he’s not making “significant progress”. Ok.
While the NCAA listened to the case and followed up on the specifics, they still mismanaged the situation by reducing the suspension to 4 games.
Why is he suspended at all?
For choosing a major that holds students to a high academic standard? For attending a university that is more concerned with graduating capable young adults than it is with making sure student-athletes have inflated grade point averages or are barely scraping by with enough credits just so their basketball program and those student-athletes are in the best position possible to make that university millions of dollars?
Ok, you want to argue that according to his major and the university he did in fact receive a mark lower than what earns a student credit? Fine. But the NCAA has a waiver process for this very reason. You can’t tell me Jalen Hayes’s case doesn’t warrant a waiver. If his doesn’t, just scrap the whole thing then because you won’t find any case in more need of one.
But upon hearing the details, how can the NCAA in good conscience not throw the entire suspension out???!!! This student-athlete remains suspended yet the University (and I use that term very loosely) of North Carolina invents classes for it’s basketball players to enroll in and no student-athletes get punished? No suspensions? No games missed?
But that’s the NCAA for you. Who wants to be bothered with ethics or morals or plain common sense when there’s money to be made.
And you thought the NFL was a mess.
Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.