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Commentary: Texas lineman Desmond Harrison is responsible for his ineligibility, not BYU

Published: Monday, Aug. 19 2013 2:20 p.m. MDT

Personal accountability and responsibility have no place in college athletics, it seems.

The collective sports world has piled on the NCAA in recent months (rightfully so) for its lack of leadership, consistency and willingness to take responsibility for poor decisions and actions.

Yet we continue to coddle so-called student-athletes in the process.

We collectively claim schools should stop using them as free tools to make gazillions of dollars and should pay the athletes. The world of sports is sympathetic to Johnny Manziel’s violations of NCAA policy and understands his desire to make a few bucks. Urban Meyer has made a career out of giving his players fourth and fifth chances, even when the charges are gravely serious or felonious.

But our ongoing, simultaneous willingness to absolve athletes from taking responsibility for their actions persists. It is perhaps best illustrated in the University of Texas’ Desmond Harrison case.

Here’s the timeline on the story to get you caught up:

Harrison grew up in Texas but played high school football in Greensboro, N.C. He worked toward playing at Contra Costa College in California.

Harrison needed to improve his grades to be eligible to play, so he enrolled in BYU’s Independent Study program to replace some poor prior marks.

Contra Costa accepted the credits and Harrison played two seasons there before committing to Texas to play for Mack Brown this season.

Texas, likewise, accepted the Independent Study credit which had previously been accepted by CCC.

At some point this year, BYU learned Harrison was a student-athlete when he took the course, which per BYU policy — agreed to by the player when enrolling — made him ineligible to receive credit.

BYU made Harrison aware the credit was rescinded, and Harrison on Tuesday made an appeal to the decision.

BYU reviewed his request and according to another OrangeBloods.com report has deemed Harrison's credit invalid.

Meanwhile, according to reports, the University of Texas is saying Harrison is prepared to take legal action to have the credit reissued, stating that BYU has allowed other student-athletes to earn the credit without rescinding it post-transfer.

The NCAA may also be willing to intervene in Harrison’s behalf, as mentioned on Horns247.com, despite the fact that in 2010 it adopted a policy that disallowed high school course credits from BYU’s Independent Study program.

Other athletes doubtlessly have done what Harrison did since 2006 when BYU implemented the rule that student-athletes weren’t eligible for the Independent Study credits.

But what is BYU supposed to do? Hire a private investigator to check every single student in the program and verify they aren’t trying to become academically eligible to play sports somewhere?

It's also doubtful that Texas won’t legally have to keep Harrison ineligible since the credit was accepted by Contra Costa and the University of Texas prior to being rescinded. BYU’s action won’t really mean much, once the dust settles.

Bottom line is Harrison will likely play — but that’s not the issue.

The problem is this: once again we are enabling a student-athlete to willingly and knowingly break the rules and get away with it.

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