Recently it has come to my attention that I am indirectly connected to a potential NCAA investigation/violation.
I could be part of Exhibit A.
Wes Welker, the great NFL receiver and former Texas Tech star, tweeted a link of an extremely well-written newspaper story to a high school football player who was being recruited by BYU and Texas Tech. The link took the recruit to a story that was written by, well, me.
(I’d like to take a moment here to compliment Welker on his fine taste in columnists and reading material, which is certainly a reflection on his intelligence and discernment.)
The theme of that column was this: Austin Collie is the only wide receiver from BYU ever to make an impact in the NFL. Welker tweeted the link of that story to the recruit during the latter’s visit to BYU, along with this: “Name me the last WR in the league from BYU? Think big picture. I will give you 50 more reasons why they would be a bad move.”
Texas Tech reportedly is investigating itself and could turn itself into the NCAA for Welker’s tweet. In the silly, letter-of-the-law, hypocritical world of the NCAA, that tweet is a rule violation.
“The NCAA prohibits that type of communication involving boosters and former student-athletes, and we are in the process of investigation,” said a Tech spokesman.
Anyway, I mention all of the above so I can ask you this: Can I un-publish my story? Delete it?
Memo to NCAA:
If I can be of service to the NCAA, if I can offer any assistance in enforcing your draconian rules on college sports, if I can incriminate boosters who encourage recruits to attend State U., if I can ferret out golfers who use university hoses to wash their cars (I’ll explain) or coaches who send innocuous text messages, please don’t call.
Count me out.
Asking me to do anything favorable to the NCAA, including the use of my work to aid the NCAA’s cause, is strictly forbidden. That’s like asking the FBI to testify in behalf of the Corleone family.
I want no part of it, if I have a choice, no matter how small or indirect my role is.
Forthwith, I forbid the use of my story by the NCAA for the purposes of an NCAA investigation. In fact, if the NCAA decides to use the link to my story as evidence against Mr. Welker, I will confess that I found his cellphone and sent the tweet without his knowledge.
I know this sounds as if I don’t like the NCAA.
That’s only because I don’t.
Why? Where do I start? Failure to maintain control of football and its messy postseason. Keeping its thumb on its amateur workforce as the last holdout for old-fashioned (and wrongheaded) amateurism. Its heavy-handed (and often selective) enforcement department.
The NCAA is so heavy-handed and letter-of-the-law that it has universities cowering and turning themselves in for silly offenses. Kentucky reported assistant football coach Randy Sanders because he texted a recruit’s father to tell him he would miss an upcoming visit because his own father had passed away.
Joker Phillips, the former Kentucky football coach, turned himself in because he replied to a text from an unknown number by asking, “Who is this sorry.” It turned out to be a recruit, and since contact is forbidden between the coach and recruit at certain times of the year, it’s a violation.
For this, the coach reported himself. That’s like pulling up at the police station and turning yourself in for going 5 miles over the speed limit.
Another school recently turned itself into the NCAA when it realized one of its female golfers had washed her car on campus, using a university hose. The horror!!! The NCAA demanded that the golfer pay the school $20 — the cost of the water and use of the hose.
The thinking is that the water and hose were not available to all students and therefore it’s a violation. Does that mean athletes should pay to drink from the water fountain in the athletic department since it’s not available to all students?
Meanwhile, the NCAA, the TV networks and the bowl fat cats are raking in billions of dollars from the athletes’ sweat.
In 2008, the San Diego Union-Tribune compiled a list of the silly rules violations for which schools reported themselves. Among them:
In 2006, the University of Utah turned itself in because three football recruits were loaned warmup clothing to stay warm in cold weather during a recruiting visit. In 2005, Washington State coaches sent a letter to recruits on cardstock paper instead of normal letterhead. That same year, a WSU volleyball coach reported that the school had paid $1 of a $14 hotel movie bill for the school golf team during a road trip. In 2006, a Washington tennis coach made an appointment by phone to visit a recruit. Two days later, he called the recruit again to ask directions to his house, violating the limit of one call per week per recruit. In 2005 Arizona State reported that a track athlete had signed a modeling contract and posed for a website. In 2006, Arizona reported that a gymnast appeared in a TV ad for a restaurant where she worked. Fresno State reported that its assistant soccer coach had watched pickup games in the offseason. And on and on it goes.
All of the above resulted in punishments ranging from official censure to being banned from calling a recruit or temporary ineligibility of an athlete or loss of practices and contests.
The NCAA should report itself like everybody else these days.
Doug Robinson's columns run on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org