In the case of former University of Southern California assistant football coach Todd McNair, which I wrote about several weeks ago, the enforcement staff’s evidence against him was so dubious that a judge has ruled that he will likely win a defamation suit he brought against the NCAA. In another case that I wrote about, the boyfriend of an NCAA investigator bragged that his girlfriend was going to nail a player she was investigating — months before her investigation had been completed.
Indeed, in the Miami case, this is not even the NCAA’s only ethically dubious stunt. Just before Thanksgiving, the enforcement staff sent out letters to numerous former athletes who had refused to cooperate — as is their right. The letters said that if they didn’t talk in the next few days, the NCAA would assume that they were guilty of rules violations and punish their alma mater.
“The NCAA thinks it is the 51st state,” Johnson told me.
Its investigators regularly solicit the assistance of law enforcement officials, acting as if they have some kind of equal standing. But they don’t. The NCAA is not a regulatory body. It is merely an association that creates rules designed to prevent its labor force — college football and basketball players — from making any money. Most of its investigations — investigations that are selective, highhanded and a mockery of due process — are aimed at enforcing its dubious rules.
Over the last year, as I’ve stumbled across one outrage after another, I’ve wondered when someone in a position to do something about the NCAA — College presidents, maybe? Members of Congress? — would stand up and say “enough.” It’s getting awfully hard to look the other way.