- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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When you see the NCAA punish a school like Texas Southern, the immediate reflex is to make fun of the NCAA. You want to repeat the classic quote: "The NCAA is so mad at Kentucky, it's going to give Cleveland State two more years' probation." Whether fair or not, that is the NCAA's historic reputation -- that it lets the big boys skate while punishing small schools in a strongman's show of force. Now we're punishing a SWAC school? Come on!
That is the initial reflex. But then you actually take a minute to read about Texas Southern's case, and the way the tiny D-1 entity has pretty much willfully broken every NCAA rule under the sun for the past two decades, and you feel less inclined to rage against the mean ol' NCAA. To wit:
In this case, the university allowed 129 student-athletes in 13 sports during seven academic years to compete and receive financial aid and travel expenses when they were ineligible. The majority of these student-athletes had not met progress toward degree or transfer requirements. The committee noted “particularly serious violations” occurred when the former head football coach knowingly allowed a booster to recruit for the football program and the former head men’s basketball coach provided false or misleading information during the investigation.
The men’s basketball team also failed to serve its academic performance program penalty. During the 2009-10 season, the university was required to limit scholarships and restrict its athletically related activity to five days a week. The team awarded two more scholarships than allowed in the penalty and did not adhere to the practice restrictions.
And that's just the first couple of paragraphs! It continues: Coaches aware boosters were acting as recruiters, basketball coaches using football scholarships (seriously?) to circumvent scholarship restrictions, the university exceeding financial aid limits, and on and on. And then there's this (bold emphasis mine):
The committee noted that as a double repeat violator, Texas Southern either has been on probation or had violations occurring on campus, or both, for 16 of the past 20 years. At various times during the earlier probation periods the university reported to the committee it was taking certain remedial actions when it actually was not, which was of particular concern to the committee.
Of course, life isn't easy in the SWAC, and you can empathize with small schools that struggle with the NCAA's universal academic requirements. But this is something else entirely. I mean, "double repeat violator?" Come on! I didn't even know that was a thing!
Basically, Texas Southern is Delta Tau Chi, and the NCAA is Dean Wormer. No matter what the Committee on Infractions does -- probation, scholarship losses, more probation, more scholarship losses, public censure, postseason bans, show-cause orders, the works -- Texas Southern just does not seem to care. And this has been happening since the start of the Clinton administration. Incredible.
When you see the NCAA punish a school like Texas Southern, the immediate reflex is to make fun of the NCAA. You want to repeat the classic quote: "The NCAA is so mad at Kentucky, it's going to give Cleveland State two more years' probation.