These are strange, strange days for the NCAA and its president, Mark Emmert. He wants to look up and feel like dancing in a shower of confetti. Instead, he looks up and must run from a curtain of acid rain.
The calendar says these are supposed to be the best of times: College basketball wraps up its ultimate party with the men’s national championship Monday night and then the women’s finale a day later. On these events, the NCAA shield shines with a polished glean.
But so much else on Emmert’s watch — and just this week — would batter that NCAA shield and leave it crumpled, defaced with graffiti.
Basketball would try to put a happy face on Emmert’s kingdom right now, but it’s a mask that fails to hide all of the ugliness underneath.
Rutgers fires its basketball coach, sees its athletic director resign in scandal and its president under pressure to do the same after a video surfaces showing the angry, bully-coach physically abusing players and using homophobic slurs.
A separate report alleges Auburn paid football players and altered grades in 2010, tainting a national-championship team.
And, of course, Miami petitions the NCAA to drop its case against UM entirely in a scathing 45-page motion that details wrongdoing by NCAA investigators that tainted the case. Even Emmert had to admit — at a news conference in Atlanta on Thursday that was supposed to be about basketball and happy stuff but turned real — that “the Miami issue had some enormous foul-ups in it.”
You know that gruesome broken leg Louisville guard Kevin Ware sustained? And how hard it was to watch the replay of it?
That video of Rutgers coach Mike Rice abusing his players was even harder to watch.
Both made you sick. Only one made you angry.
The sport will soon crown a major new champion, and you’ll see that NCAA logo everywhere. The brand is tarnished, though. It is damaged.
And no amount of cheering Monday night, no amount of joyful photos from a net-cutting ceremony, will hide the stink rising all around Mark Emmert.
Geez, that’s about enough with real life. Can we get to the nonsense, please!?Mel Kiper Jr. D.J. Fluker
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