Throughout the years I have been a critic of the NCAA organization.
It talks the talk that the students are the driving force behind the organization. However, they do not walk the walk.
Most of their decisions do not appear to be focused on the student but rather seem focused on the dollar bill. For years student athletes made member schools and the organization billions of dollars, but have had to follow a set of rules that made them go hungry after games. Maybe the NCAA is beginning to see the results from their past performance and decisions.
The NCAA got it right in allowing KU basketball player Silvio De Sousa to become eligible for the 2019-2020 season for the Jayhawks. You can save the nasty emails if you are a MU or Kansas State fan. I am not a booster of KU, MU or Kansas State, and I do not have a dog in the fight. I am about a young athlete receiving a fair deal during his or her time as an NCAA athlete. The adults surrounding De Sousa gained financial benefits to sway him to attend KU. In other words, those adults received all the benefits and the young student athlete paid the price. It was a bad and wrong situation.
An NCAA ruling to declare him ineligible for one year would be sufficient. Two years would have been over the top. The original ruling was the NCAA flexing its muscle after the FBI. The adults surrounding De Sousa were more worried about their pocketbooks than the athlete. For years the dirty world of college basketball was focused on the greed of coaches and parents while the young athletes were the ones held accountable.
Some of the major schools in college men’s basketball have been playing the game of which shoe company or AAU team could provide the most attractive deal. Some national power schools have been treated much differently than schools that were not revenue magnets. Some of the NCAA rulings have made no sense at all. It has been a little like throwing darts at a board to determine which penalty should be dealt to an athlete and their school. Many schools never even had their name on that dart board.
The NCAA has a tough job when it comes to policing and it is clouded by the power of money to do the talking. However, the NCAA should, and always must, have the best interest of the student athlete at the heart of their decisions. In the De Sousa case it was obvious that the student athlete was used by some very shaky adults. Yes, he was old enough to know better if he even knew about the deals attempted behind the scenes. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was justifiably punished with a one-year suspension.
It looks like De Sousa did everything the NCAA asked him to do during the investigation. He did not run over to Europe and become a pro. The kid actually seems to really want to play at KU for his junior year. He served his punishment and the NCAA kept the best interest of the student athlete at heart. If the intent of the NCAA was to make a point, they did. Hopefully this type of underhanded recruitment will end. The NCAA does have a tough job, but it does not include behaving like a lynch mob to punish young athletes.
Money-minded adults that will use young athletes to advance their own personal financial gain are the culprits. Maybe, just maybe, the NCAA is beginning to see that their first responsibility is to the students and not to the schools and coaches who make so much money in the college sports world today.
The quote of the week comes from Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Sid Luckman: “Today’s high school students will be the leaders of tomorrow. To be a good leader, you must be honest, responsible and willing to put the best interests of everyone before personal gain.” These are good words to live by.
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.