At a time when we should be celebrating the culmination of a thrilling, upset-laden NCAA tournament, some of the attention on the games has instead been deflected by two new media investigations into potential violations.
The New York Times reported Friday that the NCAA may reopen UConn's major infractions case involving the recruitment of Nate Miles after the one-time Huskies signee told the newspaper that coach Jim Calhoun knew of illegal payments from a booster. Miles also accused a former UConn assistant of initiating his relationship with the booster and said he received improper help on standardized tests.
UConn's Final Four opponent, Kentucky, was the subject of a FoxSports.com probe also published on Friday. According to that report, former Kentucky and Memphis basketball staffer, Bilal Bately, made impermissible phone calls to several recruits including DeMarcus Cousins prior to leaving the Wildcats program in 2009.
Neither report is especially damaging by themselves and both may result in minimal punishment if any at all, yet the timing of their release is another dent in the already battered reputation of college athletics.
Between the firing of ex-Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl for lying to NCAA investigators, the accusations against Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel and the stories of Cam Newton and other Auburn football players being shopped as recruits, the embarrassment only gets worse by the day.
NCAA president Mark Emmert emphasized the importance of restoring integrity in college athletics when he addressed the media on Thursday in Houston.
"One could argue that right now there are some very serious assaults on that collegiate model," Emmert said. "The collegiate model requires all of us in the NCAA office, in higher education, on the campuses, everybody who is inside intercollegiate athletics, it requires that we work extremely hard to protect and defend that model of collegiate athletics."
It's good to hear Emmert acknowledge there's a problem. It would be nice to see a beefed-up enforcement staff and stronger, more consistent punishments that show Emmert's words are more than just lip service.