For those of you out of the loop, here's the sitch. A bunch of kids found a loophole in the student-athlete rules, and like a dog that found a loose board in a fence, of course they crawled through it. No, wasn't just football so don't go thinking it was just that. Most of the violations were on smaller teams like Track & Field and most were infractions for less than $100. The worst offender made out with between $2,000-3,000 in free books, which doesn't surprise me when those things cost between $200 to $500 a piece. Even heard that they proved that these books weren't later resold to get the cash value, if that matters at all. Total sum for all people involved was around $20,000 if I got my numbers straight...we're not talking about a major screwjob here after all, just some free textbooks.
Even after all that, Bama found out about it and Bama tried to deal with the situation themselves. Wasn't something we were doing deliberately. Wasn't something we were hiding or "trying to get away with". It was a problem. We found it. We stopped it and we were tracking down who did it and were punishing those involved as we saw fit. I don't know the extent of that punishment, I'll admit, but even if it was a slap on the wrist I'm okay with that because it hardly seems like too desperately serious of a violation. We're talking about free school supplies for kids. At worst you pay it back, maybe make those individuals sit out a game or two or otherwise deal with them on an individual basis.
Back to the present. NCAA did their own investigation and determined that Alabama will be fined the price of the sum of all the illegally obtained books, times two. Not too bad...total there comes up to $43,000 or so. Like I said earlier, chump change for such a small set of violations. The kicker is that they also determined that every single victory that any of these athletes were involved in is now null and void, and all those wins are now forfeit. EVERY. SINGLE. GAME.
It could be a lot worse, but I'm still rather ticked about the decision.
First off, this affected a dozen sports and not just football. But as the news only seems to care about football I'll focus in on that one sport for my example - just keep in mind that half a dozen other sports are gonna be affected in the exact same way.
Secondly, who the fuck is NCAA to punish us for something we were the ones to find and we were already handling ourselves? If we were unethically trying to screw someone over, then yeah. Come in and play the role of bad cop and rough us up a little. But if we're policing ourselves then there's no need to punish us a second time when we've already got a situation well enough under control. Hell, if we hadn't found out about our own problem you might not have ever known so just back the hell up, aight?
Now to the ruling itself. This decision completely erases three entire years of hard work and dedication, excluding a few embarrassing losses that were sandwiched between so many great games. So much effort went into the 2005-2007 seasons, by the coaches and the assistants, and the other 96 players on the field who are being unfairly punished for the actions of the 4 or so who were involved. Those are the ones I'm most pissed off on their behalf - they worked their way up through park ball, played through high school, put in hours and hours in the gym, toughed it out during two-a-days, maybe even fought through tryouts just to walk on then earn a spot in the lineup, make the team, get on the field, earn a spot in the lineup, finally get to play...and then have all of that stricken from the history books because the guy next to you tried to screw the campus bookstore out of three or four free textbooks. Fuck you, NCAA.
The other thing that enrages me is that they're throwing the book at us (see what I did there? har!) for something that happened off the field. If this were steroids*, I could see the need to strike the records. The cheating directly screwed up what happened in the game, and affected the outcome as a result. But here, free textbooks or not, it didn't affect the competition. Let the game stand on it's own, and let the punishment for what happened off the field happen off the field. Don't let things like this interfere with the game in any way.
*Slight addendum here - had this been another sport, such as professional baseball? Even a steroids scandal wouldn't warrant striking the record. Barry Bonds earns himself a home run record and probably a spot in the Hall of Fame, big bloated head and all. Who cares about the drugs. Not even gonna get started on some of the other well-known sports criminals as the list could get real long, real quick, but suffice it to say sneaking away a free schoolbook or two would be almost laughable at the professional level where all the real criminals play.
The good news is that this doesn't screw us up for years to come. It could have been much worse if they crippled us with a lack of scholarships, as that'd hurt our recruiting. Less talent on our squad means more talent on our competitors as well, and the balance of power shifts for a few years until we get back up to full recruiting potential and then get that round of Freshmen worked up through the ranks to upperclassmen and up to leadership positions. But still...the fuck, man? You don't just undo three entire years for all the sports that any of the people participated in any of the games. Heavyhanded much? Thought so. Especially when we're already dealing with it ourselves.
If you do wanna throw your weight around, prove that you've got the bigger dicks and do something just to remind everyone that y'all still are the ones in control, then go after these folks on a one-on-one basis. Fine the school five times what they owed. Ten times. Make a point that way if you feel like you just got to. Then go after the kids and make them work of their debt, holding them personally accountable for their actions by either paying up in donations or community service to one of your projects or something else so you don't have to blindly squash every single member of every single team that any of these people were on just to hit the comparably few people you were after. Just seems right to me.
That's all I got to say about that. We get an appeal, but I doubt we'll use it and I doubt we'll get it if we do put in for it. We admitted guilt and we were lucky in some ways that they didn't strip us of our scholarships, crippling our future instead of our past, so we'll probably cut our losses and just fucking deal with it. Doesn't mean I got to like it and neither should you.