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Crime and punishment, NCAA-style, take 2

Steve Smith has a followup post to his obituary of crooked Michigan booster Ed Martin, which I had commented on here.

Where we disagree, I believe, is on the notion of whether there should be a statute of limitations on NCAA sanctions. It is perfectly reasonable for the NCAA to punish a program for violations that occurred before anyone on the current team was at the university; since the regulations in question are geared towards maintaining competitive balance for the schools, a program that cheats will develop advantages in the area of recruiting, which affects the decisions of student-athletes to attend their chosen schools. In the Ed Martin investigation, it should be relevant that Robert Traylor and Louis Bullock were receiving “gratuities”, since the school’s success during their careers at Michigan directly impacts whether subsequent players, such as Lavelle Blanchard, would decide to go there.

The problem, though, is that Michigan has already been punished for those crimes; the school was on probation several years ago, and Steve Fisher, the coach at the time, was let go. The current investigation, as well as the criminal prosecution of Chris Webber, concerns events that took place going back to 1988. Webber himself left the school in 1993. While it may be appropriate to discredit the accomplishments of the Fab Five teams for what Webber allegedly received from Martin (and the school did forfeit the wins of that team, as well as striking their accomplishments from the record books), it is unfair to punish an individual today for the crimes of someone else a decade ago, when that person has received no advantage from those acts.

Fair point. I have no quibble with any of this, and I think we agree on the larger matter. Thanks, Steve!

BTW, Steve has his own lefty political blog that’s worth your time to check out as well.

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