July 23, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; NCAA president Mark Emmert speaks during a press conference at the NCAA Headquarters with NCAA Executive Committee chair Ed Ray standing behind him to announce corrective and punitive measures against Penn State University for the child abuse committed by former Penn State Nittany Lions assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

NCAA “Improper Conduct” Goes Beyond Miami

They just keep reopening the wound.

As a USC fan, I’ve been immersed in the NCAA investigation and sanctions levied against the Trojans in 2009 for nearly a decade. Every time the NCAA slapped other schools on the wrist for infractions at least as egregious as those alleged against USC, it felt like a kick in the gut.

These new developments regarding the NCAA enforcement process and Miami is yet another in a long list of incidents that have rubbed salt in the still very raw wound.

“In light of this incident and other recent events involving the enforcement staff, President Emmert has commissioned an external review of the enforcement program,” the press release reads.

My response: What took you so long?

The Miami situation appears worse than the misconduct that seemed to take place with regards to USC, but both cases point to the same clear, unrelenting effort of NCAA enforcement staff to destroy specific programs by any means necessary.

The NCAA is and has always been in the business of vendettas. Those programs which are determined to have embarrassed the NCAA in any way are targeted for demolition, fodder for the NCAA’s favorite pastime – scape goating.

Miami’s complete disregard for NCAA rules, made all the more embarrassing by the presence of former Miami Athletic Director, Paul Dee, as the head of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions, was very publicly unmasked by a Yahoo! Sports investigation.

The NCAA was determined to make an example of the Hurricanes and went so far as to hire a lawyer involved in the Shapiro case so that he could compel under-oath responses to questions relevant to the NCAA investigation in court.

USC’s crime was uncovered by another very scandalous Yahoo! Sports investigation back in 2006. The best player in all of college football, Reggie Bush, had allegedly received illegal benefits from a would-be sports agent.

Not only did the situation turn discussion towards the ever-debatable issue of amateurism, but USC vehemently denied fault. Unlike Ohio State, who escaped major punishment, despite a head coach who knowingly played ineligible players, because they bowed before the NCAA overlords, USC stood their ground. And for that the Trojans had to be punished.

Recently, a judge declared that former USC running backs coach Todd McNair had enough evidence to prove that NCAA enforcement staff acted maliciously towards him. They decided that McNair did not have the character of a man worthy of coaching at an NCAA institution and they made it their mission to bury him.

That same malice is evident throughout the USC case. NCAA enforcement staff took the word of a convicted felon at face value, misstated facts in interviews and then made no effort to correct them. They allowed a representative of USC rival Notre Dame to sit on the Committee on Infractions, despite a clear question of conflict of interest. They also changed their rules midway to throw out the concept of precedent on appeal, lest the extremely harsh penalties handed to USC be compared to any that came before or came after.

What has come after has proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the NCAA unfairly punished USC with sanctions that in no way matched the crime.

Yet at no point has the NCAA made an attempt to right that wrong.

And that’s why this hurts.

The NCAA has admitted they were wrong regarding UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad. A member of the enforcement staff lost their job over it.

The NCAA has admitted they were wrong regarding the Miami investigation. That investigation is now on hold until the misconduct can be sorted out.

Meanwhile USC will still approach signing day, navigating the difficult waters of a 15 scholarship recruiting class. USC will continue to take heat over having to pull a scholarship from a walk-on or asking an early enrollee to wait until Fall because there is no more room due to sanctions. And USC will have to face another season with a lack of depth on a limited roster.

All because the NCAA has yet to admit they were wrong regarding USC. Until they do, I’m not sure the wound will ever be allowed to close.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Miami Hurricanes NCAA USC Trojans

  • http://fansided.com/ Michael Castillo

    I think Rich Hammond made a great point on Twitter. At the time, Mike Garrett looked out of line and semi-crazy for trying to deface the NCAA both during and after the COI investigation. Now, while he still looks brash for his remarks, he’s looking more and more right.

  • GoJoeBruinUCLA

    I never understood the whole “the NCAA hates us!” bit from schools. Was I mad that it was taking them forever with Shabazz and that they were stupid in doing so? Sure. But that has to do with the NCAA being the NCAA, and I don’t sit here, thinking, “Welp, the NCAA just hates UCLA, look at all the other schools getting away with things!”

    Inconsistent though they may be, they aren’t out to destroy one program or let another slide. All these Penn State/USC fans who are all, “Eff the NCAA, they hate us” are ridiculous. Be mad that they’re inconsistent, don’t act with that “it’s us against the world”-type mentality. Remember that the NCAA needs programs like USC and Penn State football and UCLA basketball to be good because they rake in the more money than the other, less historic programs.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=3425721 Steven Rodriguez

      Your comment is ridiculous.

    • http://fansided.com/ Michael Castillo

      I don’t buy that argument, either. I think the NCAA shows some sort vengeance for schools that don’t want to play their game or the schools that won’t sanction themselves(like USC under Mike Garrett), but I wouldn’t call that the ‘they hate us’ argument, as that a stretch.

      ‘It’s us against the world’ is different though. If you’re sanctioned, that’s one way to rally the troops inside the program.

      • GoJoeBruinUCLA

        Fair enough.

    • http://twitter.com/PenguinOfTroy PenguinOfTroy

      I don’t think the NCAA hates USC specifically. I think they decided that USC was going to be their sacrificial lamb to the gods of “amateurism” for the decade and then arranged the facts to support the conclusion they settled on from the beginning – USC needed to be hammered. It’s all about saving face for the NCAA. They have no real power, so when the opportunity presents itself (see Penn State/Miami), they like to flex their muscles and use intimidation to reestablish there stature.
      And since they know that officials and supporters of other schools are unlikely to be sympathetic, they almost always get away with it.
      There is ample evidence that there was NCAA misconduct wrt USC. If UCLA had been unfairly treated the way USC has, you’d be all over it.

      • GoJoeBruinUCLA

        UCLA *was* unfairly treated with the Shabazz mess, and, if you’d ask Mick — as we talked about it while it was going down — I’d think he’d say my reaction towards the NCAA was nowhere near as hostile as most fan-bases. Fan-bases in general give that same schtick of, “the NCAA is making an example out of us!” and such and it’s so annoying. If UCLA was punished for Shabazz’s mess, I would’ve looked squarely at the coach and asked why he recruited someone that brought so much heat from the NCAA, and why there was no control over the situation in that regard.

        In essence, get over it.

        • http://fansided.com/ Michael Castillo

          It’s harder for a fan base to ‘get over’ it when other schools get different sentences and the sentence at said school is still being endured. UCLA is past the Shabazz thing, so there’s no reason for you NOT to be ‘over it’. For USC fans, the sanctions are still an on-going dilemma, while Miami and North Carolina have defied gravity of sorts, while the NCAA backtracks and redacts.

  • WingsHD

    In the light of Miami we have two Attorney’s working as AD and Asst AD with unlimited resources. It’s time USC starts to put heat on the NCAA especially when the McNair case is going to blow up in the NCAA face.

  • SCRower

    Ironic how the NCAA is pretending to comply with legal procedures when taking on Paul Dee’s Miami (the same arse who was chair of the COI for USC’s case). I’m willing to bet that Miami gets off with a slap on the wrist because of unadmissible evidence from the bankruptcy proceedings. I really wish someone would challenge the NCAA’s tax exempt status once and for all. That ought to shut down the corrupt NCAA!

    • Dude

      I’ve always thought that it was ironic that Paul Dee or Miami was the head of the COI. Now his teams are under scrutiny. LOL BTW, whatever happened to Seantrel Henderson? Remember him? He was the #1 recruit coming out of high school during the investigation. He dumped USC for Miami (big “hmmmmm” here) and now he’s struggling just to follow team rules.

  • RallyMonkeyUSA

    Lets go after the NCAA, and put the results on the world stage, for all too see…these guys are criminals mark Emmert should be fired and forced to personally apologize to McNair, and usc student athletes…including the athletes who were unable to get a college education and chase their dreams because of the scholarship reductions. It’s a shame and the NCAA should be embarrassed.

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