At the whim of the NCAA: Unfairly squeezed Orange

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How the NCAA Punished Syracuse


By ANDREW MORRIS
College Contributor Network

Jimmy B. is now down 108 wins. Next year there will be nine games of Boeheim-less basketball. Imagine a world like that.

Last Friday, the NCAA said that Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim and the university, "did not control and monitor its athletic programs" dating back to the 2001 season. As a result, the Orange was dealt some of the toughest penalties in recent memory. Syracuse must drop three scholarships each year for four years and vacate any wins that an ineligible student-athlete played in, along with some other minor punishments.

According to the NCAA, Boeheim and the program specifically did not follow drug-testing policy, broke academic rules and accepted extra benefits.

That being said, I think the NCAA couldn't have made a worse decision than this one in finalizing its investigation of the program. It's tough for me to have an impartial opinion on the situation being a second-year Orangeman who has been immersed in a basketball culture like this for two years. Part of me is bitter that I won't see my basketball coach win his 1,000th game my senior year. But I promise that what's next is well-considered, no slant, no inclination.

Starting with the most apparent injustice to Syracuse, of course the NCAA was going to find something. Follow almost any Power 5 conference school in basketball or football for eight years and something will come up -- it's a given. Part of the reason why Boeheim and the school plan on appealing the decision is because that investigation was so long. That's an incredible amount of time to search a program for something as universal as academic policies, drug testing and benefits. It's unfair of the NCAA to follow Syracuse around for eight years and call it an investigation. Try to remember what you did eight years ago.

Second, if you were an NCAA exec or someone handling this case, would you really want to come down this hard on a coach that has transformed the sport? Going off of that, does the punishment here really match the crime compared to other consequences in the past? Beyond the revenue lost from the action-packed ACC games Boeheim will not be a part of, the NCAA pushes Boeheim away from recognition as he winds down his career. Syracuse will vacate the same percentage of wins as Penn State did after their child abuse scandal -– that's absurd. The punishment here clearly doesn't fit the crime and there seems to be no comparison in cases when the NCAA decides on how much "justice" it should deal out.

Britton Banowsky, the chief hearing officer for the NCAA, said that Syracuse's self-imposed sanctions had little to no effect in the final decision saying, "We noted it and accepted it, that's it." It's a short response, but a somewhat acceptable answer. But then when asked about the reasoning behind the nine game suspension to Boeheim, Banowsky said that it, "...represents 50 percent of the conference season...The group just felt like that was the right place to be." It's comforting to know that the NCAA might not have had any real formula for these punishments. Just a suggestion and a collective nod.

To me, this ends up looking like the NCAA shooting itself in the foot, tearing down a coach and a program that helped to build up the sport over academic fraud, marijuana and an unaffiliated individual providing benefits to players. There's no evidence that Boeheim knew that these violations were occurring. For the NCAA to swing this big of an axe on violations like this doesn't make much sense. Mike Tirico said it best when he said that the NCAA was "a leaderless organization with too many hands on the wheel."

Jay Bilas didn't even agree with the appropriations and when Bilas sides with Syracuse, maybe there's something to what he's saying. There's too much disorganization and not enough concrete procedures from the NCAA, and it's resulting in unfair injustices to the victims.

It's why Boeheim will appeal his suspension and why the school will appeal its punishment. Let's hope for everyone's sake, including the NCAA, that they win these appeals and at least soften the punishment. College basketball would be much better if that's the case.

Andrew Morris is a sophomore at Syracuse University. People refer to him in the third person and he has an everlasting love for Orange, Major League Baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland A's, Golden State Warriors, and Indianapolis Colts. Follow him on Twitter: @Andrewmo123
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