WIll NCAA take charge of this mess?

WIll NCAA take charge of this mess?

Published Aug. 26, 2011 1:00 a.m. ET

If it weren’t for the NCAA, there would be rampant cheating in college sports. Players would be kicking people in the head during wild bar fights, boosters would be setting up parties on yachts with prostitutes for players, the most esteemed coaches would be orchestrating cover-ups, bowl officials would be taking money designated for charity, athletic directors would be looking the other way, school presidents would be acting stupid.

But thanks to the NCAA. . .wait a minute. What was my point? Those things are all happening, not as crimes against the NCAA’s system, but instead as dance partners with it.

On Friday, LSU coach Les Miles suspended quarterback Jordan Jefferson indefinitely after felony arrest warrants were issued in the morning over an infamous bar fight.

Did Miles do the right thing? Sure he did. He had to do it. So many teams keep getting busted — Miami, Ohio State, North Carolina, USC, plenty more — and you have to keep up at least some sort of pretense.


Not that a kid in a bar fight is the same as a systemic cheating scheme.

But it all fits under the same umbrella, that college sports is the wild west. I’d say that the system doesn’t work, but the truth is, it’s working just the way everyone wants it to.

The school presidents get their money, the coaches get their chance to win, the players get their fun, the networks sell their ads, the ad-buyers sell their products, the fans cherish the teams, the gamblers have something to do.

Who wants this to change, anyway?

Meanwhile, the media get the scraps, breaking the stories when they inevitably blow up. The thing is, these are treated as isolated incidents, but that’s not what they are.

This was shocking news that Jefferson, and linebacker Josh Johns who also was suspended, were alleged to have been involved in a bar fight after curfew. You were shocked, right? Or at least a little surprised? Interested?

Was it even background noise? Be honest: It doesn’t even make you shake your head anymore. Probably in Louisiana it does, because the Oregon game is coming.

But these things all blend together now, and don’t even seem to be individual cases.

What no one ever talks about is how this became part of our system of higher education. Where are the nerds, the school presidents? Why don’t they care?

This is why: Because their job is to raise excitement about the school and to raise money. Football can do that. They’re getting what they want.

So this isn’t meant as some sort of sarcastic comment, but as something I’d really like to know: What does the NCAA even do? Does it uncover any wrongdoing, or is that just Yahoo’s job? Does it do right by young men and women starting their adult lives? Does it foster academic achievement?

Does it fight any of the ills of college sports in any meaningful way?

No. The NCAA is the governing body of a body that doesn’t want to be governed. It’s like the kid you vote for as class president because he promises no homework.

It is either sticking to an outdated model and ideal of college sports, or just pretending to. Not sure which is worse.

As a dad, I can say that the potential of free college for kids sounds fantastic. But that currency means nothing to anyone in this model.

NCAA president Mark Emmert made a big deal recently, after the Miami scandal pushed The Ohio State back in our minds, about a commitment to change the NCAA’s outdated rulebook. The plan is to throw away meaningless rules and add teeth to ones that truly matter.

But the truth is, the only thing that matters to anyone involved is that everything stays the same. When everyone in power is profiting, then the goal has to be to keep the culture as it is. That is the point of the NCAA.

The only real pressure on the NCAA to change anything is a public push lately to pay players, as if that would stop anything. At least it would be more honest about what these players are, pros and not students.

Most players are getting what they want already, a chance to be on TV, get beautiful women, be treated like rock stars, maybe bring in a little cash on the side, possibly have a shot at the NFL.

Also, they appreciate the opportunity to learn for free in the incredibly expensive, best higher education system in the world.

I never thought I’d be able to keep a straight face while saying that.

So, a bar fight and a suspension make up today’s isolated incident. The system absorbs is perfectly, like a sponge. And the NCAA goes home for the weekend, a job well done.