Cheesy NCAA rules need changing

They issued one of those excessive heat warnings Friday, advising of temperatures that could reach 110 degrees.

I might have paid attention, if the NCAA hadn’t already caused me to reach the boiling point more than once this week.

I always thought if given the choice on who to come back as in another life, a PGA Tour player would be best. Not someone the magnitude of Tiger Woods, where unbelievable fame and fortune comes with a lifetime of no privacy, where you don’t feel a need to spend $40 million to live behind walls and trees on an island to escape the incessant scrutiny.

But rather someone like Jerry Kelly, where you annually rank among the top 30 to 50 players and pocket a few million dollars each year and exist without fear of walking outside and being mobbed. Where you live an awfully comfortable life playing golf, but fewer people recognize you than not.

I’ve changed my mind.

I want to come back as the cream cheese person.

I want to be the one the NCAA assigns to sit at a desk and get paid for creating the dumbest, most absurd rules one can imagine.

I want to be that guy.

It seems as though the NCAA has grown at least one valve in its sinister heart and now will allow schools to provide its athletes things such as nuts and fruit and bagels. Snacks for everyone.

But they can’t offer any cream cheese or butter for the bagels, which George Mason basketball coach Jim Larranaga tweeted about this week. Give a kid some spread and you’re dead.

I’m trying to figure out where all of this lands under the notorious extra-benefits umbrella.

Where in the world does the NCAA believe a little cream cheese could lead?

Is it afraid mid-major programs might again find themselves at a competitive disadvantage because they can’t offer the same level of Philadelphia Light as Ohio State?

Does it fear Texas or Florida are evil enough to throw in some lox?

I’m trying to get my hands around the idea that the preposterous 439-page NCAA infractions manual now reportedly includes a section about cream cheese and bagels but that John Calipari this week wasn’t even mentioned in a report that again erased a Final Four appearance for a program that cheated under his watch.

Memphis on Thursday was stripped of its 38 basketball wins and that national finals trip in 2007-08 for using an illegal player (Derrick Rose) who was accused of having someone else take his SAT exam.

I suppose the first red flag was raised when Rose failed the ACT three times in his home city of Chicago and then passed the SAT … in Detroit.

Because, you know, I’m sure all those schools offering the SAT across Illinois that weekend were full.

Memphis also was penalized for failing to monitor itself because a player’s relative received $1,700 worth of free accommodations and travel. It seems the player (Rose) occasionally would substitute his carry-on bag with his brother (Reggie) on team charters.

The good news: If there is a chance Reggie is lactose intolerant, more cheating probably didn’t occur at breakfast.

I understand the NCAA operates under an extremely limited scope in these matters, that it does not own subpoena power over someone such as Calipari (now at Kentucky) when investigating the Memphis situation.

Think about it: How long has the NCAA attempted to nail its case against Reggie Bush? He’ll be retired from the NFL before anyone from Indianapolis proves who paid for the San Diego-area home his parents lived in while Bush attended Southern California.

I also know two programs (Massachusetts and Memphis) now have had Final Four trips erased from record books for violations while Calipari was coach, and the only punishment he has received is to continue landing better jobs for more and more millions.

Calipari is a real-life chemist. Like steroids- and human growth hormone-afforded athletes, he’s always one step ahead of those chasing him. Only the programs he coaches get nabbed.

The NCAA needs to get serious about examining how it investigates these situations. It has to leave the cream cheese to Einstein’s and as an organization discover ways in which those most culpable are disciplined.

Cheating defines big-time business in college athletics as much as billion dollar television contracts. Presidents and athletic directors go to the wall when offering statements about having done their due diligence when hiring coaches with greasy pasts. They’re just as liable when things spin out of control.

The NCAA needs to go about its business in a different manner. Weeks like this, where kids apparently are going to be forced to eat dry bagels but Calipari continues to cash his fat checks and be treated like a savior in Kentucky, are beyond old.

Find a way, NCAA. Hire smarter people, which shouldn’t be difficult.

Just don’t bother the cream cheese guy.

It takes serious time and thought to produce such idiocy.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@review-journal or 702-383-4618. He also can be heard weeknights from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. on “The Sports Scribes” on KDWN-AM (720) and at www.infernosportsradio.com.

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