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NCAA's crimes leave victims, too

Image: Former USC Trojans running backs coach Todd McNair (© Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports)
Todd McNair was the USC running backs coach during the Reggie Bush era.
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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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We act like no one gets hurt while the NCAA and its volunteer media enforcement staff unethically uphold rules of amateurism that have long outlived their effectiveness, integrity and morality.

It’s OK for the University of Miami to get screwed. The 'Canes deserve it. For years "The U" got away with winning football games and championships by providing opportunities to arrogant, preening athletes from the wrong Florida zip codes, with the wrong SAT scores and (allegedly) holding the wrong what-is-in-it-for-me attitude.

Yeah, screw U. That’s our mindset.

The fact the NCAA collaborated with an incarcerated, convicted ponzi schemer (Nevin Shapiro) — a congenital liar looking for infamy so he could make a behind-bars movie/book $core — and funneled him and his lawyer money to make its case against Miami is completely irrelevant.

No one feels sorry for Miami. It must hang for what we believe it got away with that others did not. It must hang to protect an institution (amateurism) that we know is outdated and immoral. The U must hang even though we know the institution (NCAA) building the gallows, tying the noose and rendering the verdict is every bit as criminal as The U.

This mindset says something frightening about all of us, the witnesses and our society at large. Among other things, it says we don’t recognize the human consequence. The U is not a human. It’s an institution, like hundreds of others, voluntarily participating in the NCAA’s shamateurism scam.

However, within these institutions there are human beings suffering.

The unscrupulous tactics used to hang The U are not new or an aberration. It’s standard operating procedure. Awash in television money and in bed with the mainstream media for half a century, the NCAA has been crushing its subjects without fear for decades. This is the worst kind of dictatorship, one that is supported by the media not out of fear, but out of an irrational and biased belief the NCAA is right and just.

Trust me, it’s not. It’s like any other institution drunk on power and wealth.

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How else do you explain the NCAA’s treatment of Todd McNair?

He is not an institution. He’s not a millionaire head coach such as Jim Calhoun, Kelvin Sampson or Bruce Pearl. McNair was the USC running backs coach during the Reggie Bush era. McNair earned a good living at USC, raking in around $200K to $250K per year as one of the best recruiters in college football.

A former NFL running back, McNair connected with Bush. They were close. McNair, along with then-head coach Pete Carroll, was part of the process of helping Bush choose an agent when the All-American left USC.

As you know, members of the NCAA’s volunteer media enforcement staff unearthed evidence that two wannabe marketing agents financially supported Bush’s parents in San Diego while Reggie starred in Los Angeles. This financial support cost Bush his Heisman Trophy and justified the NCAA severely sanctioning USC.

You may also know it eventually cost McNair his job. Based on the word of Lloyd Lake, a convicted drug dealer and repeat felon, the NCAA concluded McNair knew of Bush’s dealings with Lake and another associate, the two wannabe marketing agents. McNair was hit with a one-year show-cause, meaning a school that wanted to employ McNair would have to convince the NCAA it had a damn good reason for hiring McNair. Show-cause is basically a death penalty for a coach.

McNair hasn’t coached in three years. He has a rather impressive resume. He played in the NFL. He coached for the Cleveland Browns before coaching at USC. He was regarded as one of the top recruiters in college football.

McNair made a good living in the NFL and as a coach. But he was never an NFL star. He is not financially set. Like most other grown men, he has family that depend on him. He’s 47. His career stopped on a dime. He’ll likely never be a head coach.

 

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Based on the flimsy “testimony” of Lloyd Lake. Really?

Please go to this website ncaainjustice.com and examine the evidence used to convict McNair. Its lack of credibility is absolutely breathtaking. It’s so hard to believe that a judge in Los Angeles said the NCAA demonstrated “ill will” and “hatred” toward McNair. Judge Frederick Shaller, a USC grad, said the NCAA had a “reckless disregard for the truth.”

At some point, it is likely that Judge Shaller or some other judge will make available to the public and media the emails exchanged between NCAA members involved in the demolition of McNair’s coaching career. The emails are believed to be highly embarrassing for the NCAA. The NCAA is fighting frantically to keep the emails sealed. The NCAA doesn’t want you to fully grasp its lack of ethics.

McNair is suing the NCAA for libel and defamation. In a few years, he’ll probably reach a settlement with the NCAA. He’d rather earn a living and take care of his family coaching football. His life has been destroyed so that the NCAA can pretend there’s some value in amateurism.

Do we have to pretend? People are getting hurt. This scam needs to end. The NCAA enforcement staff leaks “information” about excessive phone calls/text messages and illicit relationships with street agents to its most trusted members of the volunteer media enforcement staff (this doesn't include CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd, who's done a good job of writing about McNair's situation). The volunteers cobble together a story and sit back and wait for the NCAA to use its unethical tactics to rubber stamp the salacious stories printed in the media.

It’s all done to protect the honor of amateurism! Meanwhile, everyone involved in the scam asks for (and likely receives) a pay raise.

But The U and the kids with the wrong zip codes, SAT scores and attitude are the low-character bad guys. OK.

Tagged: USC

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