The NCAA should watch their step

Nerlens Noel is being investigated.

A few years ago I wrote a piece called, "Now there's a problem." The basis of the story was that while the Kentucky basketball juggernaut had slumbered during the Tubby Smith and Billy Gillispie years, Wildcat detractors were gracious and friendly. But now that John Calipari, a perceived bad boy in college basketball, has taken over the helm, people openly have a problem with the success.

A few years ago I wrote a piece called, "Now there's a problem." The basis of the story was that while the Kentucky basketball juggernaut had slumbered during the Tubby Smith and Billy Gillispie years, Wildcat detractors were gracious and friendly. But now that John Calipari, a perceived bad boy in college basketball, has taken over the helm, people openly have a problem with the success.

There have been allegations against Kentucky and Calipari from day one. Tampering with recruits, paying players, grade tampering – you name it, Kentucky has probably been accused of it.

I don't claim that the Wildcats are squeaky clean. In the world of big time college athletics, nobody can cast the first stone.

While Kentucky's basketball players, some of the one-and-dones, have been accused of skipping out on class and going to the NBA, there is a real academic scandal going on with one of the fellow blue-blood basketball programs. Very little has been said about this scandal.

And I'm okay with that, as long as it works both ways. Nobody has reported that Kentucky's underclassmen who went pro all completed their course-work for this semester and would be in good academic standing for next season.

Give these gentlemen the credit they deserve for doing what they were supposed to do, especially since it was widely said that they would likely not finish the semester. They fulfilled their requirements and they are moving on.

Fortunately they won't have to deal with the shade that the NCAA seems to throw over players of their caliber any longer. But that won't stop the NCAA from finding yet another young man to harass.

UK signee Nerlens Noel is now under the NCAA microscope. And if it's just to make sure his academics are in line, that's fine. That's par for the course. But still, that seems like a job for the school he's attending and the NCAA Clearinghouse, not investigators.

The most concerning part of this investigation is that the NCAA seems to be working with a reporter who has no affiliation with the entity.

Does this reporter have an agenda against the Wildcats? I don't know. Only he knows what's going on in his head. But what makes it seem like there may be an agenda is that he's investigated three Kentucky recruits in the last three years and another prospect that had Kentucky as a finalist.

In the case of Nerlens Noel, if the only question is whether he's got his grades in line for reclassification to the 2102 class, why does an investigative reporter need to be involved?

It appears that the NCAA is either trying to find something or they are too incompetent to conduct their own investigation. Both of these are not too far out of the realm of possibility. The organization is definitely not above reproach. They've struck out many times on many prospects and many schools.

The NCAA is supposed to maintain some level of objectivity in their investigations. It's obviously not a court of law, but that should be the model. Presumed innocent until proven guilty, right?

CBS columnist Gregg Doyel said this morning on his twitter account that "The NCAA is now working with select reporters to attack certain programs. New territory for the NCAA. Disturbing."

There's a danger here. It's like a District Attorney having private investigators do the work the police department should be handling.

But when you have an outside person step in, who has no ties to the organization and doesn't necessarily have the same standards, the NCAA leaves itself open to scrutiny in regards to its decisions. But the problem remains that no matter how much people question the NCAA's choices and rulings, nobody is there to make sure that they meet their own standards and properly enforce their rules.

Who do Mark Emmert and his people have to answer to when they make the wrong decision?


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