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AZProgressive's Journal
AZProgressive's Journal
September 12, 2016

Charleston Southern Debacle Shows Futility of NCAA Rules-And National Office Interpretations

Short Handed in Tallahassee

Charleston Southern University lost to the vaunted Florida State Seminoles on the football field last Saturday by a lopsided score of 52-8. That outcome is not a surprise. Even though Charleston Southern is a pretty solid football team at the FCS level, demonstrated by playing powerhouse North Dakota State tough a couple weeks ago in a loss, even coming close to FSU on the field would have been a major accomplishment. Considering the Buccaneers were not even at full strength-finishing with the score only being 52-8 and not worse is somewhat admirable.

Player Suspensions

Charleston Southern and several of its football athletes, 32 to be exact, unfortunately ran afoul of arbitrary and capricious NCAA extra benefit rules prior to the game last week when it was determined that several athletes had used leftover money from their scholarship book allowance to buy school supplies. Due to this “indiscretion,” all of these players received varying levels of suspensions and financial penalties, including 16 suspensions alone for the Florida State game. In addition, these extra purchases were apparently sanctioned or at least encouraged by the school. The campus bookstore was singled out by players as an entity that said for the players to spend the extra cash or it would disappear if they don’t. As silly as this sounds, by the letter of the law, I suppose it is an NCAA extra benefit violation and by the letter of the law there should be punishment based on the value received. Typically the NCAA assigns suspensions for monetary benefits based on $100 increments with each $100 in impermissible benefit counting for a game suspension. With that being said, the letter of the law should not apply here in any way.

Kudos to CSU for self-reporting its mistake and taking on obvious national embarrassment and ridicule, but in the end who are the ones really suffering here? Obviously it is the athletes and all involved and who love college sports must ask why? First off, why is it a violation to pocket extra financial aid money-regular students are allowed to do it all of the time? My daughter who is currently a freshman at Ohio University had an overage in her account and it was deposited in her bank account to spend on anything she desires. It was for all practical purposes her money because everything that needed to be paid for was paid for. What did she do with the extra money-ironically spent most of it on school supplies! The horror!

We can quibble that NCAA rules are made by the membership and a school or athlete must live by them. We can also try to justify that the NCAA national office in Indianapolis only enforces rules that the membership approves and accepts. On the surface that sounds true but in practice it is far from reality. The NCAA national office wields great authority to interpret said rules and regulations and the end result of an interpretation is often not so easy to determine or even it if it is correct. The NCAA national office has an army of legislative services employees who spend a lions share of their time on the phones and on the computer issuing interpretations of NCAA rules to the membership in all three divisions. These interpretations can vary widely and be diametrically different at times depending on who you contact or when you call. After all you just want someone to get you to yes, whether they are correct often doesn’t matter and often the NCAA is not correct. It just adds to the circus of an almost 500 page manual that has dozens of interpretations attached to every rule. The old Bagel being a snack, but adding cream cheese makes it meal is one of the most famous, and ridiculous NCAA interpretations of how many meals per day an athlete is allowed. Thankfully after years and years of thousands of food violations, the NCAA-led by the national office, completely deregulated the dreaded “food rules” and no one seems to care that we are actually feeding athletes a lot of food, and that Alabama can provide more food that Samford. We really do not care if Charleston Southern athletes used extra money for school supplies, and the NCAA should not either. It is a bad rule.

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