Two Pluses And Two Minuses…

Two bad ideas that I have discussed here recently were turned around yesterday.

  1. Antonio Brown learned that he would not be allowed to play football in 2019 unless he used the new “certified” helmet.  Instead of doubling down on his threat to retire, he said he would join the Raiders and get to work.
  2. The NCAA had been getting hammered on multiple fronts over the so-called Rich Paul Rule for agents who might represent collegiate athletes.  Since it was never any real skin off their collective noses who might perform agent services for players, the NCAA chose to cut their losses and rescinded the allegedly racially biased part of that rule.

So, things should be quiet on those two fronts for a while.  However, I cannot say that the NCAA is going to have an upbeat week ahead because as smart as they were to change that silly rule about agents, they stepped in a huge steaming pile of excrement with another decision.  You could almost say that the NCAA – the organization that promotes the student-athlete concept – has just taken a stand in favor of academic fraud. Let me explain…

Recall several years ago that it was discovered that UNC put its student-athletes in some courses that did not ever meet as a class and basically required no work.  To the surprise of no one, it was also discovered that said student-athletes always got high grades in those courses giving them acceptable “progress toward a degree” and an inflated GPA to maintain eligibility.  Those student-athletes were defrauded; in exchange for their participation in the revenue sports that pay for the UNC Athletic Department activities, they were on scholarship and promised an opportunity to get a college degree.  Well, that degree would be a humongous sham if in fact the courses were content-free.  And if the courses never met and required next to no work on the part of the student – – or the professors I might add – – those degrees were a sham.

When all that came to light, UNC took a lot of heat and deservedly so.  The NCAA huffed and puffed and established a Blue-Ribbon Commission headed up by Condoleezza Rice to make recommendations as to what should be done.  That august body focused on a significant loophole in the NCAA rules regarding academic fraud; that rule leaves to the individual member schools the authority to determine what constitutes academic fraud and what does not.  The Commission demonstrated its acumen by recognizing that this is the fox watching the hen house and recommended a change.  That was in 2017.

Moving with the speed and grace of a glacier, the NCAA took that recommendation and punted.  Call that rule the Moon River Rule because it has a hole in it a mile wide; that Moon River Rule will be left as is and schools can once again do what UNC did for a couple of decades until the sham courses were brought to light.  Well done, NCAA overseers.  I swear those folks could not find their way out of a porta potty even if you gave them a map, a compass and a lighted pathway to the door.

Academics took a backseat to athletics in this instance; that is hardly the first time that has occurred, but one might like to think that such happenings would be spread out in time and be episodic.  Well, if that is the case, we ought to have a long dry spell coming because there is another similar situation ongoing at the high school level in Michigan.  In this case, a student-athlete is being punished for living up to the “student” part of that descriptor and taking too many advanced courses.  Honestly, I could not make up anything that bizarre.

Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen is a wide-receiver at Walled Lake High School; he has been heavily recruited and has committed to go to Northwestern.  He has been ruled ineligible by the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) and his school is appealing that ruling on Yaseen’s behalf.  Here is the Cliff Notes version of the problem:

  • He has been ruled to have used up his eligibility despite being in his fourth year of high school.
  • He had been home-schooled prior to enrolling at Walled Lake High School and he took plenty of courses that were above his grade level.  His success in those courses caused the MHSAA to reclassify him as a sophomore when he entered the ninth grade; and therefore, they believe he has spent his eligibility in three seasons at Walled Lake.
  • The MHSAA has already denied a first appeal in this case and the high school has embarked on a second level appeal.
  • Yaseen will leave high school in January to enroll early at Northwestern.  You can infer from that intention and the willingness of Northwestern to have him enrolled at that time that he is a good student.

The Detroit News broke this story; here is a link to that report.  If you had to attach a headline to this story, here is what I would suggest:

  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Finally, with the NCAA standing aside to allow colleges to police themselves with regard to academic fraud and failure to live up to the fundamental purpose of a college/university juxtaposed with a high school kid being declared ineligible to play football because he took too many advanced courses and passed them, it is time to turn to The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm for a closing item today:

Education:  Sumthing that ewsed tu one tyme be valewed in the U.S. of Amurica, butt now iz not so mutch annymor.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………