Shamrock Thoughts: Notre Dame’s Ruling Was Unfair, But Not Wrong

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The NCAA recently came to the conclusion that enforces Notre Dame to vacate wins from the 2012 and 2013 seasons after their appeal against sanctions about academic misconduct was denied. Notre Dame had made the 2012 College Football Championship game and also won 21 games in those two seasons. It was revealed that a trainer who was also a student at the time was completing coursework for a couple of players and according to Sports Illustrated was also to have “provided impermissible academic benefits to another six.” Five players were suspended before the 2014 season for “academic improprieties,” which brought the attention to the public of what was happening on the football team. During this time, Everett Golson, the school’s quarterback during this period, was suspended from the school for the 2013 season because of academic reasons. A school which prided itself for it’s football and academics, was caught. Also here was an interesting part of the Sports Illustrated article about what else happened with this:

“The NCAA initially ordered the wins vacated in 2016 but the school filed an appeal, which was denied Tuesday. (Other sanctions included a year of probation, a $5,000 fine and a show-cause order against the trainer accused of facilitating the academic fraud.)”

Notre Dame got what it deserved. This was the right thing to do by the NCAA. But as you may ask “Well why did you say it was not fair?” Well, let’s take a look at the University of North Carolina academic scandal.

Many may remember in October 2017, UNC was awaiting on a ruling about possible sanctions against their school for possible academic violations (both “possibles” in this sentence are key words). The NCAA could not conclude as to whether there were any violations when the evidence was clearly against the school. Essentially, UNC created a sham course that players took to help with their academics. How they got around possibly getting sanctions was that the school allowed non-athlete students to take the class. It was a clever way of getting around possible sanctions, but ethically this was absurd. The school should be ashamed of themselves for doing what they did. It may not have been academic fraud on a technicality, but that’s what it really was. It may not have been a course designed to benefit student-athletes, but that’s what it really was.

While it may not have been an academic scandal, the recent sanctions handed down from the NCAA to Louisville from something that was out of the school’s hands, was harder than what may have been warranted. UNC got lucky. Notre Dame got slighted.

Now to the topic about whether it was fair. If UNC got off scot free, then yes, it was unfair to Notre Dame. It was the right ruling, but it was not fair. What happened with the players who allowed this was something that may not have been preventable by the school. However, I do not know whether or not they knew and we will probably never know the full story, but it sounds like something that Notre Dame may not have been able to detect and prevent. As to what UNC did, it’s clear they knew what they were doing and that it is wrong. The fact that they allowed the class to be available to anyone is literally the only reason why the school did not get in trouble and that’s a load of crock. Same thing as with the Notre Dame scandal, we may or may not ever know what happened, but I cannot stress any more as to how unfair this is. That does not mean Notre Dame shouldn’t be punished, they absolutely should be, but I think the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. As for the case of UNC, while technically there may not be enough evidence to warrant serious punishment, there needed to be something.

If the NCAA cannot figure out how to distinguish or how to properly punish schools for infractions committed like how Notre Dame and UNC did, they need either better leadership or a better legal department and better investigators. If it comes down to the general public making better judgments, then shame on the NCAA. And if situations like this keep happening, then NCAA may fear a loss in not only finances, but also respect as it could turn away a lot of fans. Let’s hope the NCAA can do better especially on the eve of the Larry Nassar Trial and how poorly that was handled. The NCAA needs to learn how to become more competent and how to see things the right way instead of turning the other cheek. If I were the NCAA, doing the right thing would be highly suggested when it comes to ethics.

*The link to the Sports Illustrated article.

*A link to an article about the UNC academic scandal

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