January 12, 2011

NCAA's call on Enes Kanter makes sense

It may all be over but the shouting with Enes Kanter and his quest to play basketball for the University of Kentucky. But the shouting isn't over.

I heard Dick Vitale shouting about it in the middle of a college football discussion on ESPN's “Mike & Mike in the Morning” on Tuesday. And my radio wasn't even on.

On Monday, UK coach John Calipari questioned why NCAA president Mark Emmert would come out and make a statement on Kanter. “You made your decision,” Calipari said. “Why keep commenting?”

Maybe because some pretty strong charges were being leveled at the NCAA from some pretty high places.

Outgoing UK President Lee Todd used legally charged language — “inconsistent and arbitrary” — to describe the decision. Athletic director Mitch Barnhart said he not only was disappointed in the decision, but “disappointed in the process.” That's an implication that the NCAA didn't follow its own guidelines.

And then there was the loudest of all, Vitale, who actually suggested that had Kanter attended Washington, where he originally committed and where Emmert was president at the time, he would not have been ruled ineligible.

Vitale often is over the top. On this one, he's around the bend, entering the realm of conspiracy theory. But shouting from Vitale is expected. For UK to come out swinging on a player it acknowledged received impermissible money from a pro team is more puzzling.

Regardless, it's time for clarity: The only special treatment involved in this case was the treatment UK was seeking for Kanter.

If you're the NCAA and you want to preserve amateurism, you have to draw a line. Above the line is professional status, and below it is amateur. There's gray area on both sides, but once you leave that into pro territory, you're a pro, and there's no going back.

The NCAA has drawn the line here: If you play for a pro team and receive money above actual and necessary expenses (even educational expenses) for doing it, you're a pro and not eligible. Period.

If you get money from an agent, even a lot of it, like Renardo Sidney of Mississippi State or Josh Selby at Kansas, you're in that gray area, and can still get back to the amateur side.

To many (myself included), that doesn't make sense. A lot of us think Sidney and Selby should be on the pro side of the line. But that's not the way it's drawn. And regardless of where others stand, Kanter clearly is on the other side of it.

Calipari and UK, while rightfully disappointed, have no legitimate beef with this process. Calipari referenced how long it took. But UK took 10 days in December to notify the NCAA that it would be making a second appeal after losing a second ruling. Calipari also said the NCAA encouraged the appeals. Of course it did. To do otherwise would've hampered due process.
There are rumblings of a lawsuit. But there's no legitimate suit here. None other than the Kentucky Supreme Court said in Lasege v. NCAA, 2001, “The NCAA's eligibility determinations are entitled to a presumption of correctness — particularly when they stem from conceded violations of NCAA regulations.”

Most of us don't agree with that presumption all the time, nor with the NCAA. Disagreeing with the rules is understandable. Foreign players are held to a higher standard without question. But disagreeing with the process, in this case, is not. Of all the head-scratching NCAA decisions that have sparked ranting and raving lately, this shouldn't be one of them.

NCAA's call on Enes Kanter makes sense
Eric Crawford

No comments:

Post a Comment