Perhaps it takes someone with a background as a U.S. Senator to turn this swiftly and bald-facedly on any issue.
Why, just this past season, Oklahoma University president David Boren was writing a letter to try to get Oregon to vacate its victory over the Sooners because of two confirmed bad calls in the final two minutes of a close OU loss.
Calls — mind you — that the Ducks had nothing to do with. They weren’t making them. They didn’t cheat.
But yesterday, when the NCAA decreed that Oklahoma should vacate its eight victories from the 2005 season because they were earned with two ineligible players — guys who had been paid by a local car dealership despite doing no work for it — Boren decided the action was too stiff.
“We do not believe that erasing the 2005 season from the record books is fair to the over 100 student athletes and coaches who played by the rules and worked their hearts out for a successful season that year,” Boren told The Associated Press today, in announcing that the school would appeal that ruling.
Funny, Boren didn’t have that same concern for the Oregon players and coaches. He was all for victories being vacated then.
When the victories weren’t his.
The NCAA doesn’t do this too often. You’ll see NCAA appearances vacated, occasionally a Final Four trip wiped off the books. Count me as one who was very surprised that the NCAA didn’t wipe away the University of Louisville basketball team’s 10 victories earned while Muhamed Lasege was playing for the team under court order. Perhaps the organization was (justifiably) embarrassed at its handling of that case.
Regardless, stripping away those victories, I think, is appropriate, and is an action that should be taken more often. It may, in fact, be a stronger deterrent than scholarship reduction. Creative (wink) programs can work their way around such reductions. But no amount of creativity can cover that hole in the record book, which will stand as a powerful reminder to future players, coaches, boosters and, yes, even presidents, of the costs of not watching their actions closely enough.
I fully expect this to be overturned on appeal. The NCAA’s infractions committee, I’d say, has made its point.
And Oklahoma has made very clear where it stands, too. It can always find more boosters, more players, more ways to win. It accepted the scholarship reductions and recruiting limitations.
Those can be dealt with. But Oklahoma doesn’t have much way of covering over that hole in the record book.