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Expose the NCAA, not the athletes

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Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock writes about the sports world from every angle, including those other writers can't imagine or muster courage to address. His columns are humorous, thought-provoking, agenda-free, honest and unpredictable. E-mail him, follow his Twitter or become a fan of Jason Whitlock on Facebook.

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The NCAA rule book is not the United States Constitution.

If anything, the rule book supporting the bogus concept of “amateur athletics” is akin to the laws that supported Jim Crow, denied women suffrage and upheld slavery.

POLL

  • Who should investigative reporters be going after?
    • The agents
    • The coaches
    • The players
    • The schools
    • The NCAA

The architect of the modern NCAA, the organization’s former president, Walter Byers, spelled out all of this in his 1997 mea culpa, “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Exploiting the Student-Athlete.”

Byers wrote: “Today the NCAA Presidents Commission is preoccupied with tightening a few loose bolts in a worn machine, firmly committed to the neo-plantation belief that the enormous proceeds from college games belong to the overseers (administrators) and supervisors (coaches). The plantation workers performing in the arena may only receive those benefits authorized by the overseers.”

Byers was not and is not a Jesse Jackson sympathizer. Byers is a white, right-wing conservative from Kansas. He was the NCAA’s first president (1951-1988) and sole visionary. He admitted creating a monster. His NCAA memoir was his repentance and call for a fundamental overhaul of a corrupt organization.

Reggie Bush is Kunta Kinte, a runaway slave.

The media are slave-catchers, mindless mercenaries crucifying child athletes for following the financial lead of their overseer coaches such as Pete Carroll, Lane Kiffin and Nick Saban.

I graduated from a very good journalism school. Ball State’s program is not the equal of Northwestern’s or Missouri’s, but I feel quite comfortable that I understand the role of journalists.

Journalists are not trained to be attack dogs for morally bankrupt institutions.

At some point, we can recognize that an investigative journalism award and individual career advancement do not justify pretending there is some honor in safeguarding the NCAA’s plantation.

USC is giving back Reggie Bush’s Heisman Trophy. Call me when Pete Carroll gives back a dime. Call me when USC offers a refund to all the people who purchased Reggie Bush jerseys.

Call me when the phony moralizing stops and we, the media, quit demonizing black kids for cashing in like white men.

If you read this column regularly, you know I’m fond of the TV show "The Wire" and making Wire-related analogies. The pursuit of Reggie Bush and his Heisman Trophy is the equivalent of police commissioner Ervin Burrell demanding a “buy-bust sting” and “dope on the table.”

 

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It’s a publicity stunt. Everyone is falling for it. It’s working so well that Nick $aban had the audacity to climb on his LSU-Dolphins-Alabama high horse and claim that the rules-breaking street agents are pimps.

It takes one to know one, Nick “Mr. White Folks” Saban.

Pack journalism must die. My industry/profession has sold the NCAA lie for too long. We’ve served as the NCAA’s volunteer investigative unit for 40 years.

Why?

We know exactly what Byers knows and admitted: amateur athletics is a for-profit scam.

Television and money perverted college football and basketball a generation ago. Coaches and administrators are making millions. The athletes are being compensated in a currency (a shot at a compromised education in their spare time) many of them don’t respect and haven’t been properly prepared to use. The NCAA takes most of the money generated by football and men’s basketball and invests it in welfare sports that don’t generate a dollar and are played mostly by kids who have nothing in common with the football and basketball players who produced the revenue.

Add in that we now have a far better understanding of the long-term health risks associated with playing football and it’s even more clear why these young people can’t resist taking what’s offered to them.

Reggie Bush is Kunta Kinte.

The media are going to chop his Heisman Trophy off, drag him back to USC’s plantation and let new athletic director Pat Haden lash his legacy in front of Chicken George, Fiddler and Kizzy.

And several reporters will get promotions, pay raises and a few plaques for “catching” Reggie Bush.

I have a great deal of respect for the reporters at Yahoo Sports, the media outlet that has led the Bush investigation. But I have no respect for the NCAA rule book. I have no respect for the sports journalism-awards culture that rewards NCAA rules-violation stories.

Yahoo Sports has done awesome work exposing financial links between summer basketball kingpins, the Pump brothers, and high-profile college basketball coaches and administrators. I mention this because I don’t want to create the impression that reporters I respect solely focus on supporting out-of-date NCAA/amateur athletics rules.

But this Reggie Bush story has infuriated me. I’ve listened to too many talking heads shred Bush and street agents as though they’re the problem in college athletics.

The problem is the lie, the original sin, the myth that our society is enhanced by protecting the fallacy of “amateur athletics.” Rather than destroy Reggie Bush and his Heisman Trophy, aggressive, righteous journalists should work to destroy the NCAA and every other institution in support of the amateur lie.

E-mail Jason or follow him on Twitter. Media requests for Mr. Whitlock should be directed to Fox Sports PR.

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