Reactionary NCAA is misguided, futile

Forget the NCAA’s bluster about reform.

Less than a week after college sports’ governing body held a retreat in Indianapolis for university presidents, conference commissioners and athletic administrators to pat one another on the back, it’s all gone.

Everything they said and every intention they had is useless because they have absolutely no idea what the real problems are in college athletics.

But here’s a clue for clueless NCAA President Mark Emmert: The biggest issues are the ones found in a Yahoo! Sports report Tuesday, which details allegations that 72 former and current University of Miami athletes received millions of dollars of impermissible benefits from a booster between 2002 and 2010.

Nevin Shapiro, who orchestrated a $930 million Ponzi scheme and is serving a 20-year sentence in federal prison, told Yahoo! Sports that he gave Hurricanes players gifts such as money, jewelry and yacht trips, as well as paid for sex parties, bounties on opposing players and even an abortion for a player’s girlfriend.

And it’s all alleged to have happened under the watch of former Miami athletic director Paul Dee, the former chairman of the NCAA committee on infractions that levied harsh penalties against USC in 2009 for the Reggie Bush saga.

See, President Emmert, that’s one of those real problems facing college athletics: Even those in charge of punishing NCAA cheaters can’t control their own schools.

But what is becoming most apparent is that in college athletics, no one is in control. It’s become "Cheaters Gone Wild, College Edition."

With college athletics burning down before our eyes, Emmert has only thrown handmade Molotov cocktails on the inferno since becoming NCAA president in October.

During his embarrassing 10-month tenure, he’s overseen Connecticut being placed on probation in basketball and the Huskies winning the national championship less than two months later.

Auburn won the BCS title in January, but only after the NCAA restored the eligibility of former star quarterback Cameron Newton, who had been declared ineligible for his father’s shopping of him to Mississippi State for $180,000 in an attempted pay-for-play scheme. The Tigers, however, remain under NCAA investigation.

Oh, and there’s Oregon, the loser of January’s BCS title game, which is also under NCAA investigation for a $25,000 payment it made to Will Lyles, who claims he was paid for his influence with his recruits.

Let’s also not forget Ohio State’s lying and cheating in football, which the NCAA also reportedly still is investigating.

But despite all of the wrongdoing that has blackened the eyes of college athletics under Emmert, the biggest change to come out of last week’s NCAA retreat was the decision to ban Division I teams with a four-year Academic Progress Rate below 930 from participating in the postseason.

That does nothing to stop the NCAA’s epidemic of rampant cheating. If anything, it could cause more academic scandals.

Emmert is proud of the legislation, though. To hear him gush about it, you’d think he solved the nation’s economic woes.

But wait, Emmert is doing more. With the conference-expansion money grab potentially taking college athletics to the brink of catastrophe, he decided finally to reach out to top college officials Monday and suggest — surprise — another summit, to discuss the issue.

That’s just one more example of Emmert’s reactionary leadership, which has caused college athletics to spiral out of control under him. The lawlessness also is eroding the merit of his opinions.

Emmert has been steadfast in his belief that college athletes shouldn’t be paid, but the NCAA’s failure to identify the real problems of college athletics during his tenure has only given more credence to the notion he is opposed to: the end of amateurism.

He’s supposed to have the plan for the NCAA, but it’s obvious he doesn’t. That’s frightening because Auburn, Ohio State, Oregon and Miami are hardly isolated allegations.

Anyone who believes they are is as misguided as Emmert. He simply doesn’t want to face reality.

Because if Emmert did, he would realize he’s a detriment to the NCAA, not a reformer.