Thursday, April 4, 2013

It’s not the money, or the bagman. It’s the academics, stupid!

JailAubieOnce again, from the bottom of my Crimson Bleeding Heart, I would like thank the University of Auburn for some badly needed offseason free blogging. I haven’t had the opportunity to use the jailed Aubie photoshop in over two years. With that out of the way…

Don’t sweat the allegations of inflated entertainment budgets in Selena Roberts’ story. The allegations of Muschamps’ money drawer are peanuts. As is Darvin Adams’ allegations of being offered financial incentives to forego the NFL draft and return for his senior season.

If there’s any red meat in Roberts’ piece, it’s right here:

Academic fraud: Three players say that before the BCS Championship game the team was told that as many as nine of their teammates would not be able to play in the title game because they were academically ineligible. “We thought we would be without Mike Dyer because he said he was one of them, but Auburn found a way to make those dudes eligible,” says Mike Blanc, a teammate and roommate of Mike McNeil’s. Dyer’s name was cited by McNeil, too. Dyer did not respond to calls to his cell phone. Before the season, McNeil says he was given an F for attendance in a computer science class. “I had B work but I missed too many classes; and I went to the instructor and said, ‘I really need this grade,’” says McNeil. “He said that he was sorry but he wouldn’t change it. I went to the person over him. She was in a position of power and backed up the instructor. I then told my counselor with the athletic department.” Within days, McNeil says, the grade was changed from an F to a C and he did not miss a game.

I touched on this two years ago.

The alleged academic improprieties are of particular interest to the NCAA because such issues go straight to the heart of the principles of the organization. Nothing would enrage the Committee on Infractions more than a documented case of fraudulently manipulating student-athlete grades, forcing changes in majors, pressuring educators to maintain eligibility and failing to maintain academics as a primary focus of amateur athletics.

Those are also much easier to prove. They are violations that break some of the NCAA’s most fundamental principles, and they are alleged to have occurred during a timeframe when the school was expected to be honest and forthcoming with information. The time frames involved surround two separate incidents of NCAA scrutiny—the 2006 sociology department scandal and the 2010-11 investigations surrounding Cam Newton’s recruitment.

That's a violation of the same "lying to or misleading investigators" bylaw that got the scalps of Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl canned and Ohio State’s Jim Tressel.

Of the 81 cases before the NCAA regarding violation of bylaw 10.1 since 1989, 78 of the coaches or administrators involved lost their jobs. In all 81 cases, the Committee on Infractions handed down harsh penalties and wrote absolutely scathing final reports. While the coaching staffs during the time frames mentioned by Roberts are no longer in place, the administrative big guns are.

It should be noted that this is the third time in seven years that Auburn has had to deal with allegations of academic wrongdoing and skated both times. Auburn is getting really good at this because apparently, they’ve been doing it a long time and practice makes perfect.

The NCAA is reeling right now in the wake of their own scandal in Miami. So it’s anybody’s guess as to when happens next. But don’t be surprised if the NCAA uses a fresh new case to make a bold new statement.

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