SMU alumnus reacts to NCAA sanctions

By John Christopher, ’75

The NCAA is supposed to be in existence to oversee collegiate athletics and encourage an atmosphere of good sportsmanship and fair competition that contributes to the education and enrichment of the student athlete.

Last year we witnessed the last game of our season in which an SMU senior, within 15 minutes of the end of the game, took the blame for costing his team the game. Let’s ignore for a minute the goal tending call that led to that demonstration of true character.

Last year, after the season, our point guard was singled out as the player to fill in as point guard on the Kansas team that went to the university games because of his character and ability and the relationship our coaches had with the Kansas coaches.

Also, last year we were able to witness the genuine excitement and joy of Markus Kennedy coming back from academic suspension to play the latter part of last season. That attitude was in stark contrast to the spoiled, “you are lucky to have me,” arrogant personas of too many of today’s more talented college players.

The kind of program that sets the stage for and attracts players that conduct themselves in this manner is what an NCAA-like body should be promoting.

SMU self-reported an academic incident that ultimately had no bearing on the outcome of the player’s academic eligibility.

The NCAA has decided to penalize the entire program for the non-consequential actions of what, one person. And wasn’t that person dismissed by SMU after the incident?

It is appearing that the NCAA is mis-characterizing both the situation and the actions of the coach in order to create for themselves the opportunity to levee some sadistic and non-commensurate penalties on the basketball program. These penalties do great harm to the sense of fair play that the NCAA should be promoting, and they serve to mis-educate the student athletes by demonstrating that your best, honest efforts will not be rewarded because the NCAA’s power as a governing body is more important.

The NCAA is here for the kids, the kids are not here for the NCAA. When an entity like the NCAA starts mis-characterizing situations to make its case, it has begun acting like privileged royalty who answers to no one, and that is not what the NCAA is supposed to be nor what America is about.

Question: What does the president of the U.S. make v. the head of the NCAA? The president can be impeached and removed from office. The head of the NCAA is in essentially a no-risk position and still labels themselves as a “CEO.” Neither the salary nor the label sound very academic. Who does the NCAA answer to? They are supposed to answer to the educational institutions.

The NCAA are merely people like everyone else, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. If SMU does not protest this, we are granting them absolute power.

Please appeal the penalties and make it very, very public.

Go Ponies, and keep going Larry Brown!

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