USA Today’s Marlen Garcia has a good piece in today’s editions about the NCAA’s decision to devote 20 percent of its enforcement staff to “cleaning up” men’s basketball starting Sept. 1. [Read it here]
What does it mean? Look for more scrutiny of big-time conferences and programs, according to Garcia’s piece.
Will it be enough? That’s the question Garcia asks.
Because while it sounds imposing to say that the NCAA will devote one-fifth of its staff to men’s basketball alone, in reality that means a jump from just three to six people. That’s right. The entire NCAA enforcement division is only 30 people, a massive undertaking when you consider the oversight that is needed for college sports.
But in a second piece (in print, online it’s the second half of a longer piece), Garcia suggests the upcoming months could be termed the “summer of scandal” in college sports, and lists five big-time programs that find themselves “facing issues.”
The first program on the list is the University of Kentucky.
While UK is, without question, “facing issues,” UK fans, I must say, have been screaming that their program is not under investigation until they are, well, blue in the face. And you know what? They’re right. For now. There has been no concrete suggestion that UK had a hand in any of the current controversies surrounding former player Eric Bledsoe.
Others on the list:
— UConn (eight major NCAA infractions).
— Kansas (major ticket scandal that is under Federal investigation)
— Oklahoma (repeat offender now being investigated by the NCAA for its recruitment of Keith “Tiny” Gallon)
— Michigan (facing a major NCAA football violation and has recommended to the NCAA that it be placed on two years’ probation)
All of these four differ significantly from what is going on with Kentucky right now. Three of the four deal directly with NCAA violations by the school, and a fourth (Kansas) very well might, and goes beyond scope of mere NCAA rules anyway.
While the NCAA’s search into Bledsoe’s academic past is exactly the kind of thing that beefed-up enforcement will allow the NCAA to do more, to put UK on that list of programs in the crosshairs is jumping the gun just a bit. Or maybe a lot, depending on what the fallout is from the NCAA.
At the moment, there’s no reason to believe the NCAA is pinning anything that may have happened with Bledsoe on UK. While it’s a distinction that is easy to lose, it shouldn’t be.
I’m not saying nothing will come of it, I’m just saying there’s a big difference between this, at least on the surface, and what is happening in the investigations at Kansas, UConn or Oklahoma.