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Dee lesson: Hypocrites around every corner in college sports

by | CBSSports.com Columnist
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There are few things more inherently enjoyable in this life than the judge who gets caught, the moralist with the prostitute or the politician with his hand in the till. It reaffirms our basic belief in humanity as a concept largely wasted on most humans.

Which is why the Paul Dee story is such fertile laughing ground. The longtime Miami athletic director who worked as the chairman of the NCAA's infractions committee and was always there for a sanctimonious "You should have known better" and "You should do it like we do at Miami" is the new centerpiece for a cavalcade of fools and hypocrites.

In other words, he is the new face of the NCAA.

Oh, the NCAA tries to trot out Mark Emmert, the president and a man of the highest moral rectitude. Except that we're not all that sure about him just because of the office he holds. In fact, we're not even sure of anyone any more, and we shouldn't be. This is what happens when your friends and colleagues blow your benefit of the doubt.

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Put another way, this is baseball and performance-enhancing drugs all over again.

Dee handed out justice and lectures while ignoring (if not outright benefiting from) the misdeeds in his own shop, and now that we've seen that college athletics at the highest level is largely a matter of knowing when to have your hand out, even the noblest and most sanctimonious of folks cringe when having their characters assessed.

Even if their characters are being praised. Because while they may know they are noble and pure of heart and wallet, they also know that a diminishing number of people believe them.

Why? Because a growing number of their colleagues are working the angles, and are just a phone call from an inquisitive news organization away from being eviscerated.

"Hello, coach? This is Charles Robinson from Yahoo! Sports, and I'd like to ..."

"GAHHHHHHH!!!"

This is what happens when you don't self-police. This is what happens when you say, "I know there's cheating around, but my hands are clean." This is what happens when the system is run by the same folks the system says it is trying to deter.

And no, this isn't about the evil players taking things they know they shouldn't receive. That's a nonsense argument and always has been. An athlete may do a lot of dodgy things -- ain't no saints in this church -- but even the noblest of students will accept whatever he is offered if a prominent donor to the university is offering it.

And it doesn't matter whether it's a plane ticket at the holiday or a weekend on a yacht. Hell, it's probably the same yacht the athletic director has been on when he has been trying to get the donor to give money to the new weight room.

And nobody gets to say they don't know any more, even if they don't. That one doesn't fly any more.

This is what happens to Jim Thome or Jose Bautista when someone says they must be on that HGH Yogurt diet. There's no evidence to suggest any such thing except the anecdotals that were applied to other players back in the day -- say, a year ago. And there are Thome and Bautista, trying to get their names back after not realizing their names were ever in jeopardy.

And this is your team's head coach and athletic director. They may be cleaner than a laboratory countertop, but only a fool would go to court and vouch for them because, well, because money-grubbing is always an unpleasant business. Nothing is free, and the first compromise is never the last one. The fastest ways to lose one's job in this game are to lose, to get caught cheating, or to say no to a major contributor who wants to hear yes.

But that's not the funny part. The funny part comes when someone who has taken the easy walk starts punishing his colleagues for doing the same thing. Enter Paul Dee, pretending to look outraged and saying, "I never would have condoned this if I had known."

There are enough Paul Dees now to say with some certitude that if you think your athletic director is clean, you either don't know enough, or you're just guessing. None of them get the benefit of the doubt anymore because so many of their colleagues squandered that for them.

In short, beware of lecturers. You never know where they've been.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.com.

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