The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 22, 2013

NCAA lack's institutional control

Daily Item

---- — You will be hard-pressed to find many people who will feel bad for Mark Emmert, yet there is little doubt the NCAA president has had a rough couple of weeks.

After over-stepping its bounds and punishing Penn State's football program last summer without ever doing its own investigation, the NCAA followed with a pair of botched investigations, one involving a UCLA basketball player and then the University of Miami disaster this week. Then the NCAA doubled down, suing Pennsylvania for its new law to keep the $60 million in Sandusky-related fines within the state's borders.

The NCAA has a thankless job, for sure. It tries to oversee an amateur sports organization overflowing with money. For the most part the NCAA does a satisfactory job hosting championship events, generating huge amounts of revenue from things like the Division I men's basketball tournament — some of which gets cycled to the institutions themselves.

How the money is divided among schools is sometimes determined by the success on the field or court or pool. Whether that is a fair way to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars is up for debate, but there is little doubt that the system lends itself to occasional rule-bending by some schools, or boosters, to achieve athletic success.

It is the NCAA's job to find which institutions are working in the gray area of college athletics and it is a difficult task at times. This week we found out that the NCAA itself was working in those same areas trying to wrap up its investigation into Miami's athletic department, hiring lawyers of individuals it is investigating to ask questions on the NCAA's behalf.

That news is particularly troubling and sounds like Emmert has a "lack of institutional control," at the NCAA. Maybe that is why the NCAA took the Freeh Report as gospel, because it saved the organization time and money, and also the risk of botching another high-profile case.

From his altar, Mark Emmert has castigated many for their lack of oversight in their programs. It has cost people jobs, programs scholarships and universities millions of dollars. Yet Emmert remains above the fray and untouchable.

This week Emmert said he had no idea what was going in the ranks below him. That has not been an acceptable excuse for coaches and administrators around the country under Emmert's watch, and should not be acceptable for him now.