Sins of the Father, Or Mother

Cam Newton is coming off one of the most magical seasons any college football player has ever had.  He won the Heisman trophy while leading his Auburn Tigers to the National Championship.  However along the way there have been many bumps in the road.

One was his father and the ruling the NCAA made weeks prior to the BCS title game in January.  Newton’s father was found to have asked for $180,000 in exchange for his son playing for whatever school paid the money.  The NCAA ruling claimed Cam was innocent of knowing what his father did and thus, could play in the title game.  It was a controversial decision at the time.  One I wasn’t in favor of and recent findings in another case makes it even more despicable.

It’s a case in College Basketball, and it went virtually unnoticed when the announcement was made.  Baylor freshman forward Perry Jones III was declared ineligible for a pre-enrollment amateurism violation and preferential treatment.  Jones III was forced to sit out the 2011 Big 12 Championship tournament.  Then last week, on the night of the opening round of the Men’s basketball tourney, Jones III appeal was made 5 games if he comes back next season.  This was not considered to be an institutional violation of NCAA rules.  Meaning the school wasn’t responsible.  Jones III is expected to enter the NBA draft, making the 5 games meaningless.

However what is comical about the violation is what it’s for.  Jones III mother was having trouble meeting her mortgage payments and borrowed the money from her son’s AAU coach 3 times, and she paid the money back within days.  As part of the appeal ruling, Jones must also repay at least $700 in impermissible benefits. That included the mortgage payment and a trip to California last August to attend an NFL preseason game before he began classes at Baylor.

“We are profoundly disappointed in the timing and determination in this matter,” said Baylor Director of Athletics Ian McCaw. “This outcome appears to be inconsistent with other recent, widely discussed NCAA decisions.”

Jones III had no knowledge of three loans between his mother and AAU coach that were provided while Jones III was in high school. The loans were repaid in a timely manner, according to interviews conducted by Baylor officials and the NCAA staff. Prior to his enrollment at Baylor, Jones’ AAU coach also paid for Jones’ travel to a professional pre-season football game in San Diego, Calif.  The money was provided by an undisclosed NFL player and friend of the AAU coach.

$700 is worth 5 games of a season?  It was the same punishment the 5 players at Ohio State received for selling memorabilia for tattoos.  Cam Newton was exonerated for his father asking for $180,000, yet Perry Jones III is suspended for his mother asking for and receiving help, and repaying it.  What is fair about this?  These rules the NCAA imposes are so one school doesn’t have a “competitive advantage” over another team.  How did mortgage payments give Baylor an advantage?

The ruling by the NCAA Reinstatement Committee was the final appeal opportunity, and the NCAA reasserted quietly that Jones’ case was not directly comparable to other recent decisions.

“Every situation includes a distinctive set of facts,” an NCAA statement read. “In this specific case, the student-athlete and his family actually received benefits, including the trip.”

Face facts, the NCAA is out of touch, archaic and a powerful money making machine.  Until someone stands up to them and reveals exactly what they are, decisions like this will continue.  Had Baylor been a powerful team on the verge of the NCAA basketball tournament, this decision would have been different.  Unfortunately for Perry Jones III, the NCAA couldn’t make money off him like they could Cam Newton.

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