SBD/February 21, 2013/Colleges

NCAA "Likely" To Hear Miami Case In July; Shalala's Aggressive Tactics Garner Attention

Shalala's strong words might be aimed at reducing any penalty Miami may receive
A July hearing for Univ. of Miami officials before the NCAA Committee on Infractions is “likely," although a mid-June hearing is “not out of the question,” according to Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD. The school will contest findings by the NCAA that were given in a Notice of Allegations memo delivered Tuesday, and sources said that the school “likely would not appeal limited scholarship reductions but would vehemently fight additional postseason bans in football and any in basketball” (MIAMI HERALD, 2/21).

BRINGING THE THUNDER
: USA TODAY’s George Schroeder reports UM President Donna Shalala is “politely declining interview requests for the time being, which perhaps isn’t surprising.” But UM’s “abrupt reversal from quiet cooperation to public defiance is startling” after the NCAA's ruling. The language in Shalala’s public statements this week was “unusual for a university administrator, especially before an NCAA investigation is completed.” Ohio Univ. sports administration professor David Ridpath said, “In many ways she’s thrown down the gauntlet and challenged (the NCAA): ‘Bring it on.’” Schroeder notes Shalala’s statements “played well with many, perhaps because of the natural antipathy held by many college football fans for the NCAA and especially its enforcement arm” (USA TODAY, 2/21). In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde writes Shalala “wants to bring media and public opinion down on the NCAA in a maneuver that will reduce the coming punishment.” Hyde: “Maybe it works on the NCAA's ruling body, the Committee of Infractions. Maybe it backfires.” The media is Shalala’s “great ally now.” Both UM and the NCAA “needed strong leaders at defining times.” Both, “unfortunately and unmistakably, came up lacking” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 2/21). ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich asked, “You think Shalala’s gonna back down from NCAA president Mark Emmert and his Notice of Allegations? Puh-lease. Let the arm-wrestling begin” (ESPN.com, 2/20). In West Palm Beach, Dave George writes Shalala “senses a weakness here and she’s eager to exploit it” (PALM BEACH POST, 2/21). In Miami, Greg Cote writes the NCAA -- “corrupted, embarrassed and now playing the obstinate bully -- has managed to do the seemingly impossible: It has cast the University of Miami as the sympathetic victim.” Cote gives credit to Shalala, who has “turned into Hurricane Donna, in standing up to this nonsense.” Shalala has “become a bantam force righteously blasting the NCAA” (MIAMI HERALD, 2/21). ESPN’s Andy Katz said, “You’re looking at a new shift where university presidents, athletic directors and coaches are going to fight back now" ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 2/20). But in Tampa, Gary Shelton wrote that both the NCAA and school administrators are at fault, stating, “No matter how badly the NCAA embarrassed itself, and the word ‘thoroughly’ comes to mind, Miami’s administration should have done better” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 2/20).

Critics say Emmert's position has been weakened due to UM investigation

EMMERT'S JOB IN JEOPARDY? FOXSPORTS.com’s Greg Couch wrote Shalala is “fighting the way you have to in college sports ... dirty.” NCAA President Mark Emmert is “just about done," as Shalala is “strengthened by the NCAA’s flub-ups,” while Emmert is “weakened.” Shalala “can see that weakness and is banking on it.” If Emmert “loses the battle with Shalala, or even if it appears that he will, he’s going to lose his job.” In fact, if public opinion “turns strongly, he could be gone quickly” (FOXSPORTS.com, 2/20). In DC, Nathan Fenno writes the changes Emmert helped make in the NCAA rules are “why he’d find himself in trouble if the NCAA applied the same standards to itself as it does to its members.” Fenno: "The real lack of institutional control? Emmert should look in his own office” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/21). CBS Sports Network’s Jim Rome said if “anyone deserves the Death Penalty, it is the NCAA, because right about now, nobody has less institutional control than the suits who are supposed to monitor institutional control” (“Rome,” CBS Sports Network, 2/20). L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said, “They have been far more heinous in the way they do their business than any college in the last 20 years. … The NCAA needs to lick its wounds and get out of this case right now. Don’t press it because … Congress will get involved.” Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said if “this were a court case, it would have been thrown out.” ESPN’s Pablo Torre: “They’re guilty of the very rhetoric they accuse every coach of doing.” This could help “move enforcement and policing out of the NCAA” because if they “have to investigate themselves, how can they investigate anybody else?” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 2/20). The AP's Jim Litke said, “I don’t think anybody doubts there was a lot of malfeasance going on at Miami. The problem is you almost have compromised the entire investigation” ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 2/20). USA TODAY’s Mike Lopresti writes it is “growing more difficult to imagine Emmert surviving for long unless he can somehow come up with a U-turn and grow belief in a desert of distrust.” And he had “better do it in a hurry” (USA TODAY, 2/21).

START FROM SCRATCH: In DC, John Feinstein writes the NCAA’s enforcement “debacle is not what ails the NCAA, and neither is Emmert.” Both are “symptoms of a system gone wrong, one that needs to be abandoned.” The NCAA’s “time has passed.” Collegiate sports can “no longer be run with an iron fist -- especially an incompetent one.” Not only is Emmert’s status “under no threat -- the presidents aren’t going to humiliate one of their own -- any replacement approved by that group isn’t going to be substantially different.” But even if the NCAA had “competent leadership, it would be time to start all over again.” Football, men’s basketball and non-revenue sports each “should have a commissioner.” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive “would be a reasonable choice to run football.” Potential basketball choices “could include” former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese or former NCAA Senior VP/Basketball & Business Strategies Greg Shaheen. The presidents “should be completely removed from the process except (perhaps) to help in fundraising at their schools” (WASHINGTON POST, 2/21).

THE END OF THE NCAA? ESPN’s Tom Farrey said the NCAA “is at a serious crossroads” and in terms of the future, “it’s really going to come down to what the commissioners of the BCS conferences want." Farrey: "If they feel like the NCAA is going to be an effective mechanism moving forward for them to pursue their own interests, then they’ll support it. If not, there’s no reason they couldn’t break off and create their own organization” (“Outside The Lines,” ESPN, 2/20). The L.A. Times' Plaschke suggested the possible future of the NCAA “could be a whole other organizing body." However, college presidents "have to agree on this, and they’re not going to do it. ... They love the NCAA, they love what it represents” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 2/20).

AND ONE MORE BLEMISH ON NCAA: In Newark, Steve Politi reports the Montclair State Univ. women’s basketball team will be “barred from hosting NCAA Tournament games because the association is still angry about New Jersey’s law that legalizes sports betting.” Politi: “Forget that the law is still the subject of what will be a lengthy court battle.” The NCAA, in the “eyes of many, is broken and beyond fixing” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 2/21).
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