The examples in Joe Nocera’s February 17 column, “The Stupidest NCAA Rule” are clever, entertaining and outrageous. But for broad impact on the system the “Rule” that the NCAA written “enforcement” decisions have no precedential value is the stupidest, since the resulting “historical vacuum” increases litigation inefficiencies, and serves as a foundation for the Old-Boy, wink-wink nature of oftentimes look-the-other-way enforcement. It is a subtle cause of the trend that major violations tend to be first “discovered” only by outside parties (the press, through FOIAs, or law enforcement, as at OSU). Briefs filed on behalf of member schools (usually by attorneys formerly employed by the NCAA) never cite and compare to past case law as required by almost every other system of jurisprudence, with the result that preposterous global excuses underlie schools’ briefs (Tressel’s fraud was from “indecision”; other coaches’ behavior often portrayed as “inattention”, or “lack of education.”) Decisions consistently make silly findings (actions of any obviously lying coach is most often deemed merely “disappointing.”) It’s an unreal system, which protects the members, and is akin to travelling across country, constantly ripping off that portion of the map which portrays the state through which travel has just been completed. As it stands, NCAA litigation and enforcement often is like big-time wrestling: it’s a phony fight, and participants know it.
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