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NCAA continues to amaze

By Mike DiMauro

Publication: The Day

Published September 04. 2012 4:00AM

The words of Michael Rosenberg from SI.com:

"The NCAA just made it clear: The UConn Huskies should have cheated. UConn should have given all its players a phony 'A.' Then the NCAA would say, "No violations here!" Instead, UConn was honest about its academic failures, and the NCAA banned the Huskies. Tell me again about those 'life lessons' the NCAA wants to teach."

Michael Rosenberg is absolutely right.

UConn should have cheated.

That's the only way it would have been found innocent by the National Corrupt Athletic Association (NCAA).

Rosenberg's words - and the spleen ventings of other pundits throughout the country - come in reaction to the NCAA's latest charade. The NCAA launched an "investigation" into academic fraud at North Carolina (although the Charlotte Observer reported Monday NCAA representatives haven't been on UNC's campus in a year) and concluded that because fake grades and credits for not attending classes were open to all Carolina students, not just student-athletes, no NCAA violations were committed.

No, really.

If you missed the story, North Carolina's African and Afro-American Studies department came under investigation because of a report that former football players had taken a bogus summer course. Julius Nyang'oro, the former head of the department, retired July 1 because of the investigation.

It evolved into a cesspool of forged signatures, unearned grades, unearned credits and reports that several prominent players - Julius Peppers, Hakeem Nicks and Marvin Austin among them - were either ineligible or given grades they didn't earn.

But because student-athletes weren't the only ones receiving improper treatment, the NCAA ruled no violations occurred.

And so had UConn given all of its players fake grades - and extended the largesse to a few students - the basketball team would be eligible for the postseason this year.

Can you believe it? Rod Serling would be 50-50 as to whether to accept such a script for the Twilight Zone.

It's not a particularly pleasant feeling, either, to wake up one day and discover that you've been wrong about something on which you have blathered endlessly.

It was my opinion that UConn got what it deserved from the NCAA. All the pundits who supported UConn's plight turned the issue into a referendum on the shortcomings of the Academic Progress Rate (APR), the NCAA's primary academic yardstick.

I thought they were missing the point. Whether the APR needs an overhaul is an argument for another day. It's the rule as it exists.

You follow it, flawed or not. UConn gave academic achievement cursory attention for too many years.

Now I feel like I should take a shower.

Imagine trying to beat the drum for the most corrupt bureaucracy in all of sports today?

Because when cheating is a better answer than honesty, the foundation needs to be detonated.

Now I'm not a big fan of politicians. I'd prefer they keep their noses out of sports and just stick to making sure we can't afford cars, mortgages or groceries. But this is one time a few politicians out there - sources say they like TV cameras - concoct a plan to disband the NCAA and start over.

The NCAA is a sham. I know. This is a recording. But while it's never been big on clarity, consistency or transparency, it had never been this overtly corrupt. I mean, I'm sure most of the vocal student section at Gampel Pavilion would volunteer to get fake grades along with the basketball players just to make sure the program continues to make runs at national championships.

And if you're Jim Calhoun, who does sarcasm better than Sinatra did "Summer Wind," how do you resist finding the nearest microphone today and burying that fraud Mark Emmert, the NCAA president?

All those schools out there who try to recruit solid citizens and make their kids go to class are missing the point. Criminals, as Allen Pinkett said the other day. Just make sure they have accomplices in the regular student body.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your NCAA.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.

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