Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bidness is Bidness

When it comes to unbridled hypocrisy the NCAA is matched only by, I dunno, say, your average televangelist. Those opposing the elimination of "don't ask, don't tell." The Republican National Committee. Insert your favorite here.

Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and 5 other Ohio State Buckeyes sold championship rings and other bowl memorabilia. They also received discount tattoos in exchange for autographs. Pryor even sold a award given to him for sportsmanship.

That young man should learn to be less sentimental. That big heart of his is gonna get him in trouble someday.

Selling such trinkets is a violation of the NCAA's "extra benefit" rule which within the context of the above-enumerated violations means that our heroes could not sell such items as this would constitute an "extra benefit" that the average student would not be able to receive. I mean, nobody is looking to buy an autographed picture of some guy in the physics lab.

But the real reason that the NCAA frowns on this kind of stuff is that the system is rigged to where the "student-athlete" has to work relatively inexpensively while the schools and the NCAA gets all the money from the games, the media and the memorabilia.

And so they moved swiftly to come down hard on the offenders. Or did they? Pryor and his fellow entrepreneurs are suspended for the first 5 games of next season. Not for the game against Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. Next season.

Mark May of ESPN is an immanently reasonable guy. He claims that the NCAA goes light on the Big Ten. He said if Arkansas' Ryan Mallett had done the same thing that Pryor did he would have been suspended for the game. Which is nonsense. Cam Newton's story that he didn't have the slightest idea that his Dad was pimping him out is completely unbelievable. But the NCAA bought it. Or they made him eligible for the BCS Championship game because there was no evidence "at that time" that Newton's family had hired an agent and received money.

Does the punishment here in the Buckeye bust fit the crime? Probably not. They suspended Georgia's A.J. Green immediately when they caught him selling his Independence Bowl jersey to a kid suspected of being an agent's runner.

But an Ohio State team minus Terrelle Pryor might mess up the TV ratings for the Sugar Bowl. Not that the NCAA claims to pay attention to these things, but a depleted Buckeye roster might even cause the contest to get pulled off the Board in Vegas. Same deal with Auburn. It's all about the money.

And the NCAA would be the last institution in the Western Hemisphere to let trifles like fairness and consistency get in the way of business.

Which is enough to make a person downright cynical. I hate that.

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