Writing an Op-Ed for the New York Times, Joe Nocera rips the NCAA for its double standard regarding punishments for coaches and players. Wealthy, often white, coaches receive slaps on the wrist for major transgressions, while poor, often black, players have their careers altered for minor ones.
Nocera contrasts the NCAA’s treatment of Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun and Baylor star Perry Jones.
Calhoun’s program provided $6,000 in impermissible benefits to recruit Nate Miles through a booster/agent. Staff members contacted said booster/agent around 2,000 times via phone or text. Two staff members lied to NCAA investigators. Perry Jones’ mother, unbeknownst to him, solicited and immediately paid back three loans from Jones’ AAU coach to pay rent while Jones was in high school. Said AAU coach also took Jones to an NFL game.
Jim Calhoun’s transgression was worse. He knew it was a violation and he knew it was happening, yet it was Jones who received the harsher punishment.
Jones was suspended immediately before the Big 12 tournament, likely costing Baylor an NCAA bid. He was ordered to repay the $500 benefit he received for attending the football game. Calhoun, in contrast, was suspended for three Big East games, the next season. He was permitted to coach in the NCAA tournament, which he won. He will receive an $87,500 bonus for doing soon top of his $2.3 million salary.
The NCAA perpetuates a system of graft where administrators and coaches profit enormously. Ohio State football is “amateur” and “non-profit.” Yet head coach Jim Tressel makes $3.5 million per year, Ohio State’s AD Gene Smith makes $1.2 million a year. Ohio State has nine football assistants earning at least $162,000 per year and fourteen head coaches, most of them in non-revenue sports, earning six-figure salaries. State employees, eight of the coaches earn more than Ohio’s governor.
These coaches and administrators suckle well past the satiation point, receive side benefits and attend numerous junkets, frolics and speaking engagements all shielded by the tax-exemption and the amateur ethos. The NCAA, with the media gleefully serving as its enforcement staff, protects and perpetuates its own corruption while hammering kids for the most minor of transgressions.
Ohio State players are then suspended nearly half a season for bartering items they own for tattoos. We rip the kids for having the audacity to profit marginally while their coaches siphon six and seven figure salaries from a university budget. We’re outraged, because the kids weren’t punished immediately.
The NCAA’s double standard for Perry Jones and Jim Calhoun is unsurprising. It resembles a historical truism. It’s easy and often gratifying to dump on the disenfranchised. It’s hard to go after the entrenched, powerful and corrupt.
[Photo via Getty]