Maryland and MSU show that NCAA Commitment to “Welfare of the Student-Athlete” is Hogwash

We have just been informed that the NCAA has “cleared” MSU, as regards the athletic swamp which was generated by Dr. Nasser. Allowing for us all a brief moment of silence, this is still a little much. Cleared?

The NCAA appears to be on a similar track, to “clear” Maryland, as regards the inexcusable Maryland coaching events which appear to have been the sole proximate cause of the death of Jordan McNair earlier this summer (in circumstances which indicate that Maryland — or, I should say, Jordan McNair — would have been much better off, if some 7-year old with a basic heat exhaustion-care app, had been on premises.)

Put away the smelling salts. Get a hold of yourself. You just don’t understand the craven structure and operation of the NCAA.

The NCAA can’t “clear” MSU, or Maryland. That press release is nonsense. Why?

It’s because of the Great NCAA Flip, which has taken place over the last century. In 1905-06, Teddy Roosevelt strong-armed the Big 3 — Harvard, Princeton, and Yale — to put an end to all the foolish carnage (deaths, and serious injuries) which had taken over college football. So they formed an outfit, which morphed by 1910 into the NCAA. Its principal mission, in response to Teddy’s kick in the bottom, was safety and, as a result, they passed game-rule changes, which outlawed the flying wedge, allowed the forward pass, and established the 10-yard first down measure. Over the ensuing decades, though, the NCAA slavishly avoided oversight of ‘cheating’ in amateurism, associated with claims that players were being paid, primarily because it was so worried about attracting more members (most of the football schools initially shunned the NCAA.)

Thus was born the notion of ‘Home Rule,’ a doctrine adopted by the NCAA to assure potentially-interested schools that only safety — not ‘cheating’ about academic matters, or payer play –would be controlled by the NCAA. In short sum: by 1920, NCAA ‘Home Rule’ left academic issues (and issues about paying players) to the local school or conference.

Fast Forward, a Century Later: The NCAA has done its Big Flip. Now, the NCAA purports to need to oversee only ‘player-payment’ issues, and — believe it or not — leaves all safety issues to the local school or conference!

Safety? — that’s Home Rule! Player-pay — that’s the NCAA’s job!

What — a — Flip.

But this Great NCAA Flip exposes the reality of the NCAA’s deceptions. The ‘Welfare of the Student-Athlete’ is not even on the top 50 list of NCAA concerns. Why? Because the NCAA dropped Safety from its ‘Home Rule’ jurisdiction. The NCAA membership does not, it declares by removing safety from its Home Rule category, care a whit about player safety. If you call the NCAA about some player safety issue, the operator will give you the phone number for the particular school or conference involved. (Conferences, too consumed with negotiating fabulous TV contracts, are just media-brokers, and completely AWOL on safety.)

If player safety at PSU, OSU, Maryland, Iowa, or other outfits is of any concern to the NCAA, then it would make player safety a ‘Home Rule’ topic. Until then, the NCAA cannot “clear” MSU, or Maryland, or PSU: as structured, player safety is not within the organization’s jurisdiction.

In short summary: because the NCAA will not act to include safety within its Home Rule jurisdiction, it cannot clear anybody or any school. The NCAA has excluded safety from its Home Rule jurisdiction because it wants to avoid liability for injuries and deaths like those suffered by Jordan McNair. The result? The NCAA values the avoidance of legal liability more than they do the welfare and safety of the student-athlete.

About brewonsouthu

lawyer, with interest in college sports and NCAA oversight and decisions, and sports generally.
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