The NCAA’s Dirty Big Secret — Boiled Down — “Direct” vs. Circumstantial” Evidence

Read all these reporters, all these bloggers, message board types: they insist, oh the NCAA cleared Rich Rod of those charges that he failed to “promote an atmosphere of compliance.” What’s the problem with that conclusion?

Here’s the problem: you’re being fooled. It wasn’t a real adjudication. Any lawyer, who works outside this false NCAA litigation arena, can see it for what it is: an in-house charade.  At first blush, it might appear to have been the result of just cowardice.  But it’s worse than that.  It’s fundamentally deceptive, in the nature of mask-making. Why?  Because of the wacky standard they use.  Over and over, the NCAA says it needs “direct evidence” that someone is lying.  That is absurd. In ordinary cases, 95% are not resolved by “Direct” evidence. Then what are they decided on? Circumstantial evidence.  Direct evidence is a photo (of Bruce Pearl with the recruits in his backyard.)  Text messages and phone logs by Kelvin Sampson at IU.  Circumstantial evidence is the “weighing” function — yes, like those classic “scales of justice.”  It’s what most judges and juries are left to, because in most cases the “direct” evidence is lacking.  Circumstantial is: who said what, when? How does that stack up against other documents and statements?  What does the “weight” of all circumstances and evidence show?

So the NCAA didn’t have “Direct” evidence that Rich Rod was lying when he said he just “didn’t know” or “didn’t read” all of J. Van Horn’s materials he was given repeatedly. (They might have, if they had bothered to ask for RR’s, Labadie’s and Drapers and Martin’s text messages, Blackberries, and RR’s Secretary’s complete email and text history.)  But the absence of that “smoking gun”-type direct evidence, and the NCAA’s delusional finding that RR didn’t “fail to promote an atmosphere of compliance” raises a troubling question:  why even bother to interview all those people they interviewed — if their intention was to never weigh that evidence anyway?

And the circumstances — if you read the whole record — would make normal judge or jury — or average M football fan —  giggle.  There isn’t anyone out there who would not view the questioning of — and answers by — Rich Rod, without thinking it was a scene out of Animal House, or Saturday Night Live.  He made a buffoon out of himself with his preposterous prevarications. The man has no shame.

But, because of this wacky notion that the NCAA applies, that they need “Direct” evidence that RR was lying, all the NCAA would say is (repeatedly) that they were “concerned” about inconsistencies in RR’s statements (and Bill Martin’s actions.)

That’s it, plain and simple. The NCAA has this rule to protect their members; they don’t really care about the legitimacy of the result; they care about what most people think about the result. And most people are fooled.

About brewonsouthu

lawyer, with interest in college sports and NCAA oversight and decisions, and sports generally.
This entry was posted in NCAA Investigations, UM Football, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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