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National Columnist

Amid Miami debacle and hypocrisy, NCAA should be eliminated

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The NCAA is a joke and must be eliminated. Furthermore, the NCAA is a joke and must be eliminated.

I said it twice. Must be true. Right, NCAA?

I'll say it a third time, because let's be honest: The NCAA really is a joke. Should it be eliminated? I'm leaning that way, yeah. In the last week the NCAA has suffered so many self-inflicted wounds in its pursuit of Miami that this no longer looks like an enforcement issue. It looks like a kamikaze mission.

The NCAA broke its own rules when it investigated Miami, infiltrating a federal proceeding where it had no jurisdiction or business.

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But let's set aside the Miami thing for a second and put this in terms of Oregon:

The NCAA soon will judge Oregon for writing a $25,000 check to a bogus recruiting service. The Oregon football program put Will Lyles on its payroll, and Will Lyles produced a five-star recruit named Lache Seastrunk.

Meanwhile the NCAA wrote checks for $19,000 to a convicted felon's attorney in its quest to bring down Miami. The NCAA put attorney Maria Elena Perez on its payroll, and Perez produced unethically obtained information that the NCAA used against Miami.

The NCAA wants to judge Oregon? The NCAA is Oregon.

Back to Miami, which the NCAA said exhibited a "lack of institutional control." The NCAA issued that finding one day after admitting it had hired Shapiro's attorney, used the information she obtained in her federal case, even fed her questions to ask -- secretly -- during those federal proceedings. NCAA president Mark Emmert professed to have no idea Shapiro's attorney was on his company's payroll, admitting to an enormous lack of his own institutional control.

The NCAA wants to judge Miami? The NCAA is Miami.

The NCAA is a joke, as I've said, and that now makes four times I've said it. Which means it's doubly true according to the mathematical formula at the NCAA, which has an investigative technique straight out of the Salem witch trials. You learned about Salem in high school, right? Scores of people were accused of being witches. If the accuser claimed to have seen the alleged witch in a dream or vision, the accusation was accepted as fact: The witch is a witch! It's called spectral evidence, and while it sounds like comedy, it really did happen in Salem in the late 17th century. At least 20 people were executed as witches.

The NCAA has its own form of spectral evidence: If someone accuses a school of cheating, and then says the accusation a second time, it moves from allegation to fact.

I'm going to write that again, not to be a smartass but to assure you that I wrote it, and you read it, correctly:

Every time convicted liar Nevin Shapiro accused Miami of cheating, and then offered the accusation a second time, it moved from allegation to fact. It must be true, according to the NCAA, because Shapiro said it twice.

A joke, right? The NCAA is an absolute joke. Should it be eliminated? I'm getting closer to that conclusion, yes. I know this: If the government jailed citizens on evidence as flimsy as the NCAA uses, the people would revolt -- and I'd be in the mob, holding a pitchfork. Because that can't happen. A person cannot be convicted based on one person making an accusation and then backing it up with nothing more than the willingness to repeat the accusation.

Come to think of it, the word "joke" doesn't feel appropriate because that isn't funny. That's insane.

And yet a few days after the NCAA announced it had broken its own rules as it investigated Miami, and fired its director of enforcement, then accused Miami of a lack of institutional control, then had its version of spectral evidence revealed by angry Miami president Donna Shalala, the NCAA's executive committee issued a statement that "unanimously affirmed" its confidence in Mark Emmert.

Not just affirmed -- unanimously affirmed. The NCAA's executive committee is a group of university presidents and chancellors. Any idea how many presidents and chancellors?

Seventeen.

And it was unanimous. Not one of the 17 was willing to consider the NCAA's behavior in the Miami case -- from the unethical hiring of Nevin Shapiro's attorney to the tone-deaf decision to pursue Miami as if nothing had happened to the spectral evidence known as "self-corroboration" -- and say, "You know what? I don't affirm my support of Mark Emmert."

Not one of them.

Which means the NCAA president isn't the only problem in Indianapolis. The NCAA executive committee also is a problem. The whole damn organization is a problem, but still it continues along its merry way --- blissfully ignorant, too arrogant to understand that its existence is in jeopardy.

Times have changed. Conferences are destroying each other. The television money at stake is so enormous that the richest schools in the country -- what we know as the BCS, plus Notre Dame and a few others -- are whispering about a breakaway. Their membership in the NCAA means sharing billions of TV dollars with smaller schools in the same way people share blood with mosquitoes, and they don't like it.

That's what the NCAA's 60 or 70 most powerful schools have been whispering about for years. Just last week, Mountain West Conference presidents circulated a memo wondering if it's time to revolt:

"Is it time for the presidents to seek new NCAA leadership or a new organization?" read the Mountain West memo. "The NCAA has evidenced decisions that focus on trivial and penalize our athletes. The salaries for the NCAA leadership are excessive and an embarrassment. ... Their decision making is cumbersome and oblique."

When the revolution starts, it won't start in the Mountain West. It will start in a power conference, perhaps the ACC, where commissioner John Swofford said Thursday that "it's time for this [Miami] case to be brought to closure."

That was a threat. Miami should be let go with time served and self-imposed punishment, a two-year postseason ban. That's what Swofford was saying to the NCAA. That was his warning.

The revolution could be at hand. And if it happens, if the biggest schools do revolt, I've decided I will be in the mob. Waving a pitchfork. Wondering how something as good and noble, in theory, as the NCAA could become so offensive and unacceptable.


Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.
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