No, its not fair to the 17 seniors who have devoted countless hours to the team and milestone of a first ACC championship berth. Its not fair UM wont get 20 extra practice days. Its not fair to deny the chance to play the game, no matter the odds.
But, as Golden said, Thats the system. The NCAA can only punish and in turn, deter schools that have agreed to be rule-abiding members. The NCAA cannot punish Shapiro (the Ponzi schemer is in prison) or ex-Canes who foolishly accepted gifts from a guy who exhibited traits of a groupie shyster. The NCAA can only try to keep the playing field even by penalizing cheaters who have gained a competitive advantage.
The infractions committee has to be fair to schools that are culpable and schools that have been compliant, Potuto said. What gets my goat is the perception that the NCAA is one big evil monolith. People serving on the committee would not attend meetings and study thick case binders in our spare time if we did not believe that athletics is important, energizing and unifying.
Is it an imperfect system? Enormously so. But until somebody invents something better, the NCAA is the only barrier separating big-time football and basketball from complete anarchy. You could argue that for all its flaws, the NCAA has been more effective at regulating rogues on campus than the SEC has been on Wall Street.
College sports goes through cycles of excess and reform, toeing and sometimes crossing the line into professionalism. Its not getting any cleaner with conferences like the Big Ten expanding to 14-16 teams and schools like Maryland and Rutgers who barely turn a profit on athletics or run deficits despite millions in funding trolling for more money. Currently, there is a shared feeling among presidents that NCAA penalties have not been severe enough to root out persistent problems.
We found some coaches did cost-benefit analysis: Is it worth it to cheat? Can we get away with it? How much do the sanctions matter? Can I just get hired by another school? Potuto said. I think penalties need to be and will be ramped up, but lets concentrate on serious stuff and less on stuff that does not confer a competitive advantage.
The NCAA didnt quickly wrap up its UM investigation for a reason. UM is anticipating more than bowl bans as it enters a turbulent time: Two athletic directors have left in the past two years; Golden and basketball coach Jim Larranaga are paying for sins they didnt commit; attendance is lagging at Sun Life Stadium and BankUnited Center; donors are down; nonrevenue sports deserve more support.
Allegations hang over a campus eager to move forward.
I can see the end, what were going to become, Golden said.
He and Shalala must keep their eyes on that vision.