The NCAA has evolved into an organization that gives every appearance that it seems unsure of its mission or future, if it even has one.
Mark Emmert, who is the president of the NCAA, gets his marching orders from the universities, the mix of schools his organization is hired to oversee. If he pushes too hard, there are repercussions; if his organization is lax, there is negative feedback.
That’s why, at times, the NCAA comes across as foolish and draws harsh criticism from its detractors, who see it as inconsistent in one of its main duties – rules enforcement.
Even Emmert admitted the NCAA had developed "dumb rules," especially when determining what’s permissible and what’s not. The classic example involved the bagel, which was considered a snack (permissible), but when it was served with cream cheese it was determined to be a “meal”, which was a violation.
The burden to differentiate between a snack and a meal was left to the NCAA to decide. The interpretation, however, often resulted in making the NCAA look silly and left member schools frustrated.
The NCAA looked bad again last week when Michigan center Mitch McGary, who played only sparingly last year, was suspended for a year after testing positive for drug use following a basketball game he didn’t play in. The upshot was that McGary was forced to turn pro, although he would have been better served – and preferred -- staying in school. Oddly, because of a recent rule change, had he been tested after April 15, his suspension would have been only six months. Did the punishment fit the crime?
The NCAA saw the violation as a simple black or white matter, which it wasn’t. Once again, the NCAA showed its rigidity toward student-athletes, especially one who otherwise had had a clean record.