I’m not too proud to admit when I’m wrong. Back in April I compared the NCAA to Don Knotts’ fictitious lawman Barney Fife. At this time, I’d like to formally apologize to the surviving writers and cast of the Andy Griffith Show and the family of the late Don Knotts. I never intended to sully the name of Barney Fife like that. Watching the NCAA at work lately has made Barney Fife look like Jack Bauer.
Last week I satirically praised the NCAA for their dogged pursuit of ensuring Kentucky had the right number of wins for John Calipari in their media guide. Turns out, not only was this the stuff of mountains and mole hills, but egregious hypocrisy as well.
It seems the chairman of the NCAA Committee on Infractions, Dennis Thomas, who sent the threatening letter to UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart to “correct it or else” has some issues in his own house to tend to. Thomas’ day job is commissioner for the MEAC conference. As a poster on a UK message board uncovered and confirmed, a school in Thomas own conference, Florida A&M, was forced to “vacate” wins in multiple sports and has not made any adjustments in the official record books. I realize the vast resources available to internet message board posters that Thomas and the NCAA lack, but one would think that a conference commissioner would know what was happening in his own conference before taking on a program like Kentucky.
And that doesn’t even begin to address the double standard on this issue. It’s also a matter of public record that other teams have publicly celebrated “vacated” wins and achievements. Both Villanova and Western Kentucky had their 1971 Final Four appearances “vacated” and yet held public ceremonies recognizing those teams this past season. No letter came from Thomas and the NCAA. Ironically, UMass celebrated Marcus Camby and his career achievements UNDER CALIPARI this season, including recognition of a now vacated Final Four appearance in 1996. These schools can have public recognition of vacated wins, but Calipari and UK have to formally apologize for a private ceremony? I hope Calipari properly “vacated” the cake from the party.
If that isn’t surreal enough, now we find that the NCAA is hounding the University of North Dakota for not having changed their mascot yet from the “Fighting Sioux.” While UND had reluctantly agreed to change its nickname in response to complaints from members of the Sioux Nation, the North Dakota legislature in March passed legislation to retain the nickname. So is the NCAA now claiming power to supersede state law? If using the Sioux name is offensive, will the NCAA force both North and South Dakota to change the names of their states since they use the name of an indigenous people? What does that mean for Indiana?
Meanwhile, while the NCAA chases down rogue media guides and fights state governments over PC nicknames, somewhere close to you this weekend, an AAU basketball tournament will be going on where hundreds of violations will probably occur. Somewhere, boosters are preparing their “recruiting budgets” for the upcoming season. All under the “watchful” eyes of the NCAA.