Last week, the NCAA socked it to Baylor for multiple infractions committed under former coach Dave Bliss.
The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions on Thursday placed Baylor on probation for five years and barred the men's basketball team from competing outside the Big 12 Conference for one year.
The NCAA started its investigation into the program following the murder of basketball player Patrick Dennehy by his teammate Carlton Dotson in the summer of 2003.
The committee discovered widespread violations that included tens of thousands of dollars paid to student-athletes and prospects, more than $100,000 in impermissible donations funneled to amateur teams comprising prospects and the failure to follow procedures for reporting banned drug use.
The problem with the punishment is that the people guilty of wrongdoing already have departed.
Instead of punishing the people who are guilty, the NCAA is punishing the people brought in to clean up the mess. The NCAA is punishing players who've never met Dave Bliss.
If you're arguing that Bliss is being punished, forget it. Any school hiring Bliss for the next 10 years is subject to sanctions.
That's punishment? Any school that even considers hiring Bliss should close its doors.
Why punish Drew? Why punish the players who came to Baylor hoping to clean up the program? Why punish people who've been dedicated to doing things right?
The NCAA should reward schools that step up and acknowledge mistakes and that don't try to hide what they've done wrong.
Maybe the NCAA was trying to send a message. Maybe the NCAA wanted to remind the world what it will and won't tolerate.
Yet when the NCAA sends a message, it always sends it to schools like Baylor. The NCAA considers Baylor a nuisance. The NCAA loves to make examples of schools like Baylor.
Would Michigan have been treated as harshly? Of course not.
Yes, Baylor came clean only after Dennehy's murder, only after the program's failings already were being exposed. And Baylor had been in trouble before. NCAA officials could have given Baylor the death penalty.
Why not use some logic?
Baylor is guilty of one thing: trusting Dave Bliss.
Since it's usually a now-departed coach that was the real cause of the mess, it seems to me that the NCAA might consider making some changes that would enable them to punish those coaches more severely, thus reducing the need for them to take it out on the programs they leave behind. How about a rule stipulating that any coach whose program is found guilty of major infractions can be made to forfeit some or all of their salary for the seasons in which those infractions took place? I'm thinking Dave Bliss might have paid a bit more attention to the finer points of the rulebook if he'd known that his $500K annual paycheck was on the line. Make that a part of the standard contract, and as needed get a court order garnishing past wages as necessary. I think this would help put the responsibility for compliance where it belongs.
Now, this isn't perfect, of course. You can just imagine the lawsuits that would result over interpretations of "major" infractions. It's not clear to me that such a rule could be enforced against a coach whose contract didn't already stipulate the possibility of this kind of sanction. There'd be a huge amount of pushback at the very mention of this concept. All that said, I think this is an idea worth exploring.
As for Dave Bliss himself, it's hard to look at all the sleazy things he did and not agree with Justice that he's getting away essentially unpunished. Here I think there's a simpler and more direct way to extract a bit more redress: Baylor should file a civil suit against him for the amount of ticket and other revenues they stand to lose this year for the nonconference games they are barred from playing. I think they could make a pretty solid case that he was the primary cause of those lost revenues, and could probably get a settlement in reasonably short order. It doesn't change the fact that Scott Drew and his players are suffering for Dave Bliss' sins, but it's something.Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 27, 2005 to Other sports | TrackBack