Innocent Punished at Syracuse
After recently learning about the sanctions that the Syracuse men’s basketball program has self-imposed, I am again reminded how much I hate the way that the NCAA conducts its business. For those unfamiliar, Syracuse has removed themselves from a possible postseason run this year amidst an ongoing investigation by the NCAA. Essentially, Syracuse is trying to protect itself from future punishments by taking initial action (the ban includes the NCAA tournament, ACC tournament and NIT).
However, the big issue that I have with what Syracuse was forced to do is that the NCAA investigation is centered around self-reported infractions that occurred way back in 2007. That means that the members of this current Syracuse basketball team, the oldest of which was in eighth grade in 2007, is being punished for past actions of the school. I don’t understand this at all. In the words of my die-hard Syracuse fan of a brother-in-law, these sanctions really indicate how broken the NCAA disciplinary system is.
While I was thinking about this, I was reminded of the sanctions brought against USC in their 2010-2011 campaign. The actions of Reggie Bush in 2005 forced the 2010-2011 Trojan football team to give up their right to compete in the postseason. Meanwhile, the only penalties brought against the players in the past were the removal of wins and a championship during the seasons that Reggie Bush played. But that is all just a formality. Those players know they won those games, and Reggie Bush knows that he won the Heisman Trophy, even though he willingly gave it back to the committee. Even the head coach at the time, Pete Carroll, had already left for the NFL. It is only the innocent players in the present that really suffer any consequences.
ESPN’s NCAA analyst Jay Bilas echoed my complaints about how the NCAA handles their penalties. Bilas posed the question, “What’s going to be solved by Rakeem Christmas and Michael Gbinije not playing in the NCAA Tournament?” This is a sentiment shared by the Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim who lamented that Christmas would not be able to end his prolific career with a postseason run. The NCAA is constantly trying to get their players, who typically leave after one or two years, to stay longer, but they punish some who stay for things that happened in the past.
The NCAA needs to begin punishing those involved while protecting the innocent. I would not have had an issue with the NCAA suspending Boeheim since he was a part of the team in 2007, but forcing Christmas to end his senior season without a chance at any post-season play is just unfair. The NCAA should also punish those in charge during the time that the infractions occurred, which could include removing future scholarships. The NCAA needs to rework its rules and regulations to avoid harming those who have done nothing wrong.