By Joshua M Hicks (@jhicks042)
If you’re talking just about on-field (or on-court) action, the NCAA has just had a great week, with some of its most important football games of the season taking place this past weekend and the basketball season fully getting into swing.
But as it so often does, the managing body for got in its own way again, not allowing the games themselves to be all that fans obsess over, we and the media also had to call them out on their hypocrisy and overall inequitable treatment of athletes and upstart programs.
Once again, the NCAA couldn’t help itself, inserting its bygone standards and irrelevant laws into situations that really didn’t call for them and we may all lose out on seeing any more highlights on the college level from two specially talented young men because of it.
Two of the biggest current stars in college sports — Memphis Tigers forward James Wiseman and Ohio State defensive end Chase Young have both been rung through the ringer by the NCAA, either facing or serving suspensions at the moment because of supposed financial support infractions the organization believes upholds the “integrity” of amateur sports.
However, many can argue that those implemented rules do not justify why those athletes deserve suspension. These current situations only add another chapter or irrelativity to the reality behind the NCAA: money, power and control over athletic slaves without the accountability of the university reps involved.
When the NCAA unanimously changed course to pay athletes after originally denying the idea, it was not a clean sweep of acceptance across the college and professional athletic communities.
Steve Siebold, a former collegiate and professional athlete who is author of the book “How Money Works,” says the NCAA’s recent efforts allowing student athletes to benefit from their own images and likeness — while a step in the right direction, is not good enough and stated his disagreement with the free education argument due to the fact that there is more to life than just an education.
“The problem with the free education argument is that from a monetary standpoint, these athletes deserve a lot more than that free education. So yes, they save $150,000-$200,000 or whatever the number is over the course of four years on the cost of school, housing, meals, etc., but what do they really get in the end? A piece of paper,” Siebold said.
“There’s nothing wrong with a college degree, and in fact it’s something to be very proud of. The problem, however, is that a college degree on its own isn’t going to make anyone successful.”
Amongst the many excuses the NCAA use to justify their rulings, they cannot relate the realistic situations their student athletes come from and go through within their daily lives. Within the African-American community, most young men/athletes come from low income, single-parent households.
They rely on the NCAA (due to the one and done rule in correlation with the NBA) to provide opportunity for them to receive a good education while also preparing for the next phase of their life from a sports perspective. But it is also a struggle to survive on a campus with limited resources, especially when athletes can’t work to help take care of themselves.
There are plenty of situations that cater to these resources that the NCAA claim athletes cannot have. Former NCAA Champion and Aurora, Ill. native Ryan Boatright was suspended for six games upon his arrival at the University of Connecticut in 2011 due to receiving improper benefits eluding to the purchase of a plane ticket to play in a tournament in California during AAU basketball.
Boatright’s UConn teammate Shabazz Napier never got suspended, but he later famously spoke out on the struggles for athletes to eat on a daily basis because of their inability to accept outside money from anyone.
Fast forward to today and you have Young being suspended for having family take care of costs so his girlfriend can attend a football game on the biggest stage of his life during that time. Money that he ultimately paid back in full before he was even suspended. Wiseman is being suspended because before his becoming head coach at Memphis, Hardaway was classified as acting as a booster to the university by covering costs to help Wiseman’s family move to Memphis to play high school basketball.
When it comes to these suspensions, we also cannot overlook the length or breadth of the suspensions compared to how other high-profile NCAA situations have been handled. Players are being suspended for large amounts of lengths from a game perspective for finding ways to take care of themselves and their families while coaches and other representatives of these universities are not held to the same accountability for breaking rules.
Former Ohio State coach and future Hall of Fame coach Urban Meyer covered up domestic abuse allegations pertaining to his former assistant coach Zach Smith, but was only suspended three games.
Arizona University’s assistant head coaches were fired and sentenced for their criminal activity of money laundering within their program, more specifically for their $10k payments made every month to DeAndre Ayton. Head coach Sean Miller claimed that he did not know if this situation and although the situation happened in his department/program, he was not penalized and was given security for his job, a situation that should required more disciplinary action.
The NCAA can make all the changes to allow players to get paid that it likes, but rule changes cannot fix the realities of biased prejudice within their organization.
Joshua M. Hicks is a Senior Writer for WARR Media