Corrupt Probers Tarnish NCAA; Super Bowl Schmaltz; NCAA Shamateurism

corrutpionFOX SPORTSFOX Sports Exclusive

Corrupt probers big problem for NCAA

Who polices the NCAA and president Mark Emmert?

by GREG COUCH
Greg Couch has been a national columnist at AOL Fanhouse and The Sporting News and an award-winning columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. He was featured twice in “Best American Sports Writing” and was recognized this year by the US Tennis Writers Association for best column writing and match coverage. He covers tennis on his personal blog.

The interesting thing about the old mobster days in Chicago was not the idealistic battle between good guys and bad guys, but instead that you had a hard time telling the sides apart. The good guys were almost as bad as the bad guys, living by whatever laws they wanted or created in the streets.

The NCAA’s admission of ‘improper conduct’ during its investigation into possible violations by Miami does not mean the Hurricanes are in the clear, FOXSportsFlorida.com reports.
Today, NCAA officials dress a little better than the old Chicago cops, and are paid better and up front, too. But NCAA president Mark Emmert announced Wednesday that NCAA investigators got slimy while investigating the slime at the University of Miami.

Those are my words. His were that the NCAA had uncovered “an issue of improper conduct within its enforcement.’’
Translation: Dirty cops. What was this issue? Well, at Miami, the investigation is over the dealings of booster Nevin Shapiro and what freebies and how many thousands of dollars he was giving athletes and their parents with the knowledge of Miami’s coaches.

Now, after two years of investigating, the NCAA allegedly caught itself paying Shapiro’s attorney unethically for information. So the NCAA is going to have an external review of its entire enforcement division.

This is a call for that review to be fully, 100 percent open to the public. Our tax dollars are funding nearly the entire college sports system. And this review needs to include answers to questions such as:

Who authorized payment to Shapiro’s attorney? Where did the money come from? And how does stuff like this happen without Emmert knowing? Or did it?
The NCAA has lost the faith of the public. Until Wednesday, it had a tiny bit of credibility left, just because it was fighting the bad guys. It was better than the bad guys. Now, it is the bad guy.

Even if the NCAA’s enforcement procedures were started with good intentions years ago, they have turned to cheap tactics now. They aren’t protecting anyone from anything anymore. The rulebook is outdated, and the fight has become a blur.

Even the reason for it. Is the NCAA actually trying to clean up college sports? Is that how you’d describe it?

Or is it just trying to hang on to its big lie about college sports being an amateur ideal? Athletic departments and entire universities will do anything to get in on the billions of dollars in their amateur world.

What a joke. The NCAA is here to protect that? No, it needs to start all over, and not just with this investigation. It needs to rethink its mission, go back to formula.
First things first: Throw out the case against Miami. The whole case.

Emmert said he won’t use information that was gathered improperly. But no, the case is tainted now, and you cannot tell good action from bad
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Missouri coach Frank Haith, the former Miami coach, needs to skate, too. CBSSports.com reported a few days ago that he was about to be hit hard, presumably for his knowledge about what Shapiro was doing at the time.He was probably going to be fired at Missouri, and certainly suspended by the NCAA. Forget that now.
It’s always fun to make fun of powerful people when they screw up.

That’s what’s happening on social media now. But this is a serious issue of power. The NCAA has too much of it, and uses it any way it wants. It has the badges, after all.
The governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett, was pointing out that exact thing a few weeks ago. There is no question the NCAA didn’t bother using its own rulebook in punishing Penn State or that it bullied school officials into accepting a punishment.

I was critical of Corbett at the time. But while his motives were clearly self-serving, his point was right on. It just wasn’t the moment to make that point, as no one wanted to hear Penn State — after it did little to stop Jerry Sandusky from raping young boys — claim that it was a victim of anything.

I still don’t.

Meanwhile, a judge recently tore into the NCAA, saying its investigation into USC was “malicious’’ and “over the top.’’ And an NCAA investigator reportedly was fired when her boyfriend was heard to be talking on an airplane about the investigation into UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad.

So this Miami case isn’t about a rogue investigator. It’s a system that is lost.

Look, someone has to fight the fight in college sports. First, the fight needs to be recast. People will argue that it should be OK to pay athletes, possibly on the free-market system. I’m not even really sure why our education system is in the business of sports in the first place.

It’s time to redefine the whole business. I use the model of Chicago’s mob days, but it’s not as if boosters with paychecks are modern-day Al Capones.

In the new model, their crimes would seem minimal. And only with some sanity and clarity can the good guys look good, or even be good, again.

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ray lewisChuck Culpepper

More from Chuck
www.sportsonearth.com

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The NFL must cancel its cheesy Super Bowl Media Day, cancel the ensuing days of roundtable interview sessions and cancel the coaches’ closing interview sessions. As for the Beyoncé press conference — well, that can stay, because no one should ever cancel Beyoncé.

The rest should go — now. The Super Bowl might have the world’s most aching need for minimalism, and now this matchup has that need crying out in the shrillest tone already. The game itself looks unusually fascinating. But the pre-game looks unusually unbearable.

The forecast calls for continued televised segments featuring Ray Lewis with an 80-percent chance of schmaltzy music. On its own, that is not so devastating. Lewis has forged an incredible career. Even his dance has some compelling elements — OK, it doesn’t, but he clearly has found his way to a self-actualized perch elusive to many.

He must be one incredible leader, because, from the outside, the Ravens routinely seem to lead the league in esprit de corps. As Terrell Suggs put it Sunday night in the Ravens’ locker room when Lewis had gone to the interview room, “POTUS is at the podium.”

The problem is, we went through the mandatory Ray Lewis schmaltz before the wild-card round, because that might have been his last game. We went through the mandatory Ray Lewis schmaltz during the divisional round, because that might have been his last game. And we went through a bit of mandatory Ray Lewis schmaltz during the conference-title round, because that might have been his last game as well.

Thus has the Ray Lewis schmaltz schmaltzed itself out, except that Super Bowl weeks might just have a knack for attempting to resuscitate exhausted schmaltz. Already Lewis has served as the vortex of a Super Bowl week — in Tampa, 2001, when the tragic night in Atlanta 12 months prior was still in the national conversation. Now he gets another try in a better vein, and there might be an urge to compare the two, which does send cold chills down the spine.

Come game time, though, Lewis and the defense will have to solve Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree and the human phenomenon known as Vernon Davis, and that will be something to see.

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Striking Gold

The 49ers are Super Bowl bound, but it hasn’t always been easy. They’ve changed starting quarterbacks in the… More» You might have also heard that the two head coaches in this Super Bowl have the same surname and are related and are siblings. This means a continuous stream of chatter about the brothers, and then a separate effort by the brothers to deflect that same chatter. The very idea that two brothers who shared a bedroom as children could grow up to coach against each other in a Super Bowl defies belief, but it also stokes some weariness about the narrative.

A reporter mentioned this fatigue, and the Ravens’ John Harbaugh glommed on: “You know what, I agree with you, let’s just cut that right now. We did that last year [when the teams played on Thanksgiving]. It got old last year. You’re right, move past that and let’s talk about the two teams.”

There are too many hours in the days to talk about just that. So, for one thing, the name “Jack Harbaugh” will return to the forefront, which figures to be uncomfortable for the only father of both Super Bowl coaches in history. I covered a few of Jack’s games in the 1990s when he coached Western Kentucky and when Jim helped him save Western Kentucky football, and I figure Jack’s national title in 2002 as a No. 15 seed easily trumps any little old Super Bowl title for degree-of-difficulty.

The problem is, this intra-family saga has a chance, just a chance, of intensifying the pre-game flow of sap.

Come the game, though, one coach’s system built through five seasons of competent nibbling at this prize will collide with another coach’s system built through two seasons of boldness and arrogance and Kaepernick, and that will be something to see.

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The forecast also calls for ample mentions of a deity who may or may not figure in NFL outcomes and in a wider sense may or may not exist. God came up a lot in the Ravens’ comments Sunday night, with Ed Reed noting early on that God had “assembled” these Ravens, which could prompt puckish discussions about whether it was God or Ozzie Newsome.

You would have to achieve some concentric circle of gloominess not to feel happy for Reed, a marvelous football player whose Hall of Fame bust should be in the chiseling process. Reed has played 11 seasons with Baltimore. It took him 160 regular-season games plus 14 post-season games to get a Super Bowl, which happens to be taking place in his hometown. “I really don’t have any words for it,” he said. “I rushed in the locker room and called my mom.”

And more: “To get here, man, it’s amazing … I’m so grateful to go to the Crescent City.”

The problem is, the talk could lead to a national discussion on whether God determines NFL outcomes, and the problem with that is there’s no evidence for and no evidence against. We’re all stuck wondering and guessing. In some circles, that could lead to a discussion of whether God exists, and the problem with that is that nobody can confirm yes and nobody can confirm no.

When it comes time for the kickoff, though, talented people who get their inspiration from myriad sources will clash, and this post-season has managed to sort out the strongest two teams at this point. Maybe the NFL could engage in rare irony and just have the game (plus Beyoncé). Maybe reporters could go to town and dine together in fellowship.

Or maybe it’s best to repair to the many foreign places in the world — note: almost all of them — in which 99.9 percent of the people never heard of Lewis or the Harbaughs or Reed or Roger Goodell or any of it. As the Ravens greeted their greatly deserved fate on Sunday night, several of them strolled around the locker room unforeseeably singing “Two Tickets To Paradise,” in imitation of Eddie Money singing to that family in the GEICO commercial.

Funny enough — that routine is already getting old, too.

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miami, paterno, t'eoFOX Sports Exclusive

Shamateurism NCAA’s common theme What do these three have in common?
byJason Whitlock
Jason Whitlock writes about the sports world from every angle, including those other writers can’t imagine or muster courage to address. His columns are humorous, thought-provoking, agenda-free, honest and unpredictable. E-mail him or follow his Twitter or become a fan of Jason Whitlock on Facebook.
Let’s tie it all together — Joe Paterno, Jerry Sandusky, Penn State, Manti Te’o, Lennay Kekua, Notre Dame, Nevin Shapiro, the media slave catchers and the NCAA.

What’s the common denominator that ties these lies and these liars together?

The myth of amateurism. The idea that in a capitalistic society there is value in competing athletically for no financial reward while the organizers stuff their pockets with told and untold millions. The outright lie that a man or woman’s integrity is revealed by his or her willingness to adhere to an outdated and immoral NCAA rule book.

Perhaps you are tired of seeing me harp on these themes. By now it’s obvious I hate amateurism and the governing body (the NCAA) that promotes and exploits it. You get it. But it’s equally obvious many others do not.

The sham of amateurism must be repeatedly thrown in the face of its beneficiaries and the people who believe it does no real harm. People don’t understand how corruption works and what breeds it. Too many Americans do not comprehend the lesson of Abraham Lincoln. He ended slavery because he realized its immorality undermined the very principles and values this country was founded upon.

OK, big-time college football and basketball do not threaten our republic. That is not what I’m arguing. But the concept and practice of amateurism within multi-billion-dollar businesses does breed an unhealthy cynicism within the participants and their supporters and breeds corruption within the administrators of the amateurism lie.

Amateurism is sports’ original sin. All other sin is a byproduct of the original sin.

Why did Joe Paterno look the other way when it was clear a monster lurked in his football offices? Why did Penn State choose to look out for the best interest of Jerry Sandusky rather than the best interest of Sandusky’s child victims?

Paterno and Penn State wanted to protect the profitable football institution it erected built on the myth that Paterno and Penn State won football games the right way, the NCAA by-the-rulebook way.

We are, Amateurs!

Manti Te’o is a myth built in support of amateurism. We were told his character was higher because he turned down NFL riches to return to good-old Notre Dame for his senior season. We never suspected he returned to school because he’s a naive child not ready for the real world.

Notre Dame is the spokesperson for the amateur myth. No institution lives the lie more enthusiastically, effectively and hypocritically than Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish rake in millions of dollars partnering with a television network that exclusively sells Notre Dame football. Yeah, Notre Dame had every reason to be willfully ignorant for as long as possible about Lennay Kekua.

No one should be surprised that Notre Dame conducted a sham, hear-no-evil, see-no-evil, look-for-no-evil internal investigation into Te’o and Kekua. Notre Dame has no incentive to look for or reveal its complicity in the Kekua fiasco.

Notre Dame is a symbol of the goodness and purity of amateurism.

I’m sorry. It never gets old for me to repeat the words of Walter Byers, the white conservative from Kansas who created the modern NCAA. In his 1997 memoir “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Exploiting the Student-Athlete,” Byers wrote:

“Today the NCAA Presidents Commission is preoccupied with tightening a few loose bolts in a worn machine, firmly committed to the neo-plantation belief that the enormous proceeds from college games belong to the overseers (administrators) and supervisors (coaches). The plantation workers performing in the arena may only receive those benefits authorized by the overseers.”

In order to protect the system that Byers analogized to slavery, Charles Robinson of Yahoo! and NCAA investigators hopped in bed with a convicted ponzi schemer, Nevin Shapiro, to bring down the University of Miami football program.

This is what I mean when I say the original sin corrupts everything it touches. Shapiro bamboozled innocent people out of hundreds of millions of dollars. Shapiro’s father was a con man. Courtroom testimony alleges Shapiro has connections to the drug world. Whenever Shapiro’s lips move lie-detector machines throughout the United States convulse violently.

Yeah, NCAA president Mark Emmert should be shocked and embarrassed that his investigators were intimately involved with Shapiro’s lawyer and using bankruptcy hearings to further allegations against Miami.

I don’t believe for one second this is the first time the NCAA protectors of truth, justice and the American way unethically colluded with people of highly questionable character to trump up bogus charges.

There’s no honor and integrity in the way the NCAA practices amateurism. From Paterno to Te’o to Shapiro, we’re constantly reminded the NCAA system is rotten at its core.

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