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NCAA is truly out of control

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Thayer Evans

Senior College Football writer Thayer Evans previously wrote for The New York Times and Houston Chronicle, as well as contributed to The Economist, USA Today, The Washington Post and more. Follow him on Twitter.

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It’s easy to explain what doesn’t meet the NCAA’s definition of a lack of institutional control.

The notice of allegations North Carolina received Tuesday detailing nine major violations it committed the last few years makes the NCAA’s most damning rules violation as crystal clear as the BCS championship trophy.

It wasn’t a lack of institutional control when former Tar Heels assistant coach John Blake received $31,000 working as a runner for a sports agent, tutors did work for players and seven players received more than $27,000 in impermissible benefits from agents, former players like Chris Hawkins and former tutor Jennifer Wiley.

Just like it wasn’t a lack of institutional control that Blake lied to NCAA investigators, Wiley knowingly broke NCAA rules and refused to cooperate with NCAA investigators, and an unidentified Tar Heels player lied to NCAA investigators.

It also wasn’t a lack of institutional control that North Carolina failed to adequately monitor Hawkins’ use of university facilities and access to players, didn’t check players’ Twitter accounts that showed violations, and decided against investigating impermissible benefits after a player reported the possibility.

How do we know all of those alleged violations weren’t a lack of institutional control? Because the doomsday charge that crippled USC's football program wasn’t listed in North Carolina’s notice of allegations.

Count me as relieved to hear the Tar Heels truly had everything under control the entire time.

Just like Ohio State did under former coach Jim Tressel, despite him lying about his knowledge of former quarterback Terrelle Pryor and other players’ memorabilia swapping. The Buckeyes also avoided a lack of institutional control charge in their notice of allegations in April.

The lack of the charge for both is a mockery that can be credited to the “principles of institutional control,” a mind-numbing, six-page document prepared by the NCAA’s infractions committee. Its first section declares that “control is defined in common-sense terms.”

Forget what the document says, because real common sense tells you North Carolina and Ohio State were both out of control. Each had individuals who brazenly broke NCAA rules repeatedly and lied about it without regard for consequences.

That’s the definition of "out of control." It doesn’t make sense that North Carolina and Ohio State are being spared from facing a lack of institutional control charge.

In this scandal-marred era of college athletics, accountability is needed now more than ever.

It’s the surest sign yet that the NCAA has lost control.

That’s why it’s time for the infractions committee to take a bold stand and seize back some control by scrapping its “principles of institutional control.” Change the policy to a simple, single sentence: It is the sole discretion of the infractions committee to determine whether a lack of institutional control is warranted.

If NCAA president Mark Emmert and the membership truly care about integrity, make the dreaded charge even more feared than it is now. If you’re not going to issue the death penalty, then you need to use the lack of institutional control charge more frequently and — most importantly — consistently.

Take a zero-tolerance stance on excessive rules violations like North Carolina. Add a lack of institutional control for Ohio State since the discovery that Pryor allegedly received $20,000 to $40,000 for signing sports memorabilia came after their original notice of allegations.

Had a rogue coach or player? Too bad, because that’s not an acceptable defense anymore. You should have been more scrutinizing.

Make North Carolina and Ohio State pay like USC, which had a lack of institutional control charge in its case involving the Reggie Bush saga. It resulted in the Trojans last year receiving the harshest penalties doled out by the NCAA in recent years.

That’s the significance of North Carolina and Ohio State avoiding being tagged with a lack of institutional control. They’ll try to convince the infractions committee that they deserve lighter sanctions than USC’s two-year bowl ban, loss of 30 scholarships over three seasons and four-year probationary period because they weren’t hit with the charge.

It’s a travesty because North Carolina and Ohio State both deserve penalties just as severe as USC’s . . . at the very least. Only time will tell if they too are made examples by the infractions committee.

But until then, at least we now know what’s not a lack of institutional control according to the NCAA. It was the rampant cheating at North Carolina and Ohio State.

Tagged: North Carolina, Ohio State, Ohio, USC

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