Blog Entry

NCAA: The No Consistency Athletic Association

Posted on: January 7, 2011 8:24 pm
Posted by MATT JONES

The NCAA on Friday reaffirmed its previous ruling that Enes Kanter will never step foot on a basketball court for Kentucky.  The decision was not particularly surprising, as the organization had three times previously ruled against Kanter and seemed for some time to be dead set on drawing an Enes line in the sand, with virtually all other NCAA athletes on one side and Kanter standing on the other.  A myriad of conspiracy theories can be trumped up for the decision, ranging from the NCAA's general dislike of Calipari to its President standing up for his former employer, the University of Washington, where Kanter was committed before flipping and heading to Kentucky. But the simple fact is that a conspiracy theory is not needed for the NCAA to act irrationally.  In fact at this point, a lack of coherent reasoning and consistency seems ingrained in the core fabric of the organization.

The facts of the Enes Kanter situation have always been conceded.  Kanter played in Turkey for two seasons and was paid a sum of money between the ages of 16-17 to be part of the professional club, Fenerbache.  For many national sportswriters and college coaches, for whom nuance and shades of grey are as rare as a dodo bird, that has settled the issue.  However, the NCAA has created a system in recent years to attempt to allow these so-called "professionals" the ability to play college basketball in America.  Up until this point, the NCAA has recognized that the European youth system is different than that of America, with the notion of popular amateur athletics on the University level virtually non-existent.  The best talent of Europe signs early with a professional club and is trained in the equivalent of a basketball academy, with money paid for their training and expenses.  The NCAA has allowed these players to come to the United States and even last year, repealed the antiquated rule that forced them to sit out an equal number of college games to the ones they played for the professional team.

In Kanter's case however, the NCAA deemed $33,000 of payment given to Enes's father to be above what was a "necessary and actual expense."  To the NCAA, that money represented a salary, given because Kanter was a professional.  But of course, that conclusion doesn't pass the smell test.  Does anyone honestly believe that a player would be deemed a professional, while playing for one of the richest clubs in Europe, in one of the most expensive cities in the world (Istanbul) and would only accept $16,500 a year in the process? If Kanter and his club truly considered him to be a professional, why would he have been paid such a small amount?  Kanter's father has insisted that over $20,000 of that money was used for educational expenses, which if true, means that a little over $10,000 over the course of two years made Kanter a professional in the eyes of him and his club.  

While that decision might seem a bit irrational, viewed in the abstract, it could at least be defended.  But of course, the NCAA does not operate in a vacuum, and over the course of the last three months has issued three high-profile decisions allowing three high-profile players to compete despite amateurism violations.  Each could be defended with some tenuous logic when released, but when viewed together with the Kanter decision, no consistent theme can be found.

Take Kansas Freshman Josh Selby. He was suspended for nine games and required to pay over $5700 to a charity of his choice due to his acceptance of that amount of improper benefits while in high school.  Under NCAA rules, Selby was no longer an amateur.  But the NCAA looked at the case and somehow determined that this violation could be redeemed if the money was simply paid back.  How is the excess $5700 in expenses different than Kanter's $33,000?  Is it just that the total is too large?  Maybe so, but there is nothing in the NCAA rule book that says the amount makes a difference.  Is the difference that the money was paid by a European club rather than a hustling street agent?  Maybe so, but there is nothing in the NCAA rulebook that says where the illegal money comes from should make a difference.  The difference is manufactured, but never explained by the NCAA.

Take Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton.  His father admittedly asked for $180,000 in improper benefits from Mississippi State, but the NCAA allowed Newton to play because it deemed that it could not be proven that his son knew about the money.  Ok fair enough.  In a vacuum that makes sense.  But Kanter also claims to not have known about the money taken by his father in excess of the "actual and necessary" expenses.  The NCAA claims that the fact money was taken is different than if money was simply asked for by the parent. However that difference is not based on any rule in the NCAA Rule book and the logic behind both cases (the son should not be punished for the sins of the father) applies to both equally.  So why is Newton, who one has to strain the laws of credibility to believe didn't know his father was on the take, playing and Kanter, who likely didn't do the expense budget and probably didn't know the amount his father took, ineligible?  Its hard to comprehend.

Or take the Ohio State five.  All five broke NCAA rules when they sold or exchanged NCAA memorabilia that was given to them for various team accomplishments.  All broke the rules and violated the amateurism standard.  But, the NCAA allowed them to miss only five games and even went further by delaying the punishment because the group was supposedly unaware of the rule they were breaking.  I am certain that 16 year-old Enes Kanter in Turkey had no clue what the NCAA rules were when he took the money from Fenerbache, so why doesn't the "I didnt know" apply to him?  Is it because he has no BCS Sugar Bowl upcoming?

The simplistic way to look at the Kanter situation is also the easiest.  He played for a professional team, so he was a "pro", end of story. But, when one looks beyond the surface level, those simplistic distinctions breakdown and are shown to be based on nothing in the NCAA rule book or from any logical consistency.  Josh Selby, Cam Newton, the Ohio State Five and Enes Kanter all broke NCAA rules.  All of them should have been ruled ineligible based upon a strict reading of the NCAA rules.  But in three of the cases, the NCAA decided that the rules needed bending and rendered punishments that allowed for "flexibility."  In the Kanter case, the rules were read strictly.  What explains the difference?  Well nothing in the NCAA rule book or any logical framework does, so all we are left with is one conclusion.  The only thing certain about the NCAA's decision making process is that it will be consistently inconsistent


Since: Feb 16, 2008
Posted on: January 8, 2011 11:00 am

NCAA: The No Consistency Athletic Association

The biggest admitted liar continues to coach at the Univ. of Tennessee

Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: January 8, 2011 10:10 am

NCAA: The No Consistency Athletic Association

exceptional research, mr. garvin; i haven't time or will to check the bylaws myself, but ... kudos to you!  (I wonder why the JOURNALIST, so-called, didn't read the by-laws.)

Since: Apr 6, 2009
Posted on: January 8, 2011 9:37 am

NCAA: The No Consistency Athletic Association

While I agree that there is a network of logical inconsistencies within the bylaws, a careful reading of them will show that the NCAA has largely acted within the parameters they have established.

12.1.2 lays out the base rules of amateurism, but et seq define the terms of 12.1.2 (regardless of their lack of consistency with the stated principles of the NCAA). If we suggest that Kanter received the benefits for education, we are directed to, which explicitly excludes "educational expenses" paid by "professional sports team[s]/organization[s]" from being considered legitimate. In layman terms, the NCAA says plainly that a student can't be paid educational expenses by a pro team (or an agent, a member institution of the NCAA, or a representative of a member institution). The source of the funds DOES factor in to the decision, and IS part of the bylaws. The distinction between Kanter and Selby may be manufactured in this regard (and I agree that it is), but it is manufactured within the rulebook, not arbitrarily by some hearing committee.

My big issue with Selby is that it appears that he fell under bylaw for "Preferential Treatment, Benefits or Services" based upon his "athletics reputation or skill or pay-back potential." According to that rule, if the value of the benefit is $100 or less, his eligibility would be unaffected so long as he repaid the value to a charity. But his cumulative gain was $5700. Does the NCAA intend to suggest that we should consider each benefit indiviually, ignoring the cumulative total (i.e., if he got 57 payments of $100, it's all good)? And if so, are we to believe that Selby only got installments of $100 or less leading up to that grand total? That seems like a serious stretch.

As for Cam Newton, I think he got by on a loophole. Since the bylaws don't specifically address the particular situation of a family member soliciting payment without actually receiving payment and without being retained as an agent by the athlete, there doesn't really appear to be any black letter to apply. While there is plenty of room to argue that the whole situtation was a gross violation of bylaw 2.9 and possibly 2.12, there really isn't a hard and fast rule to latch on to, and you'd be stuck arguing policy.

The Ohio State decision was a catastrophe. I don't consider it all that pertinent to the Kanter case, so I won't bother digging up the particular rules in question, but suffice it to say that the ruling was nothing short of a Kamikaze dive right through the spirit of the NCAA.

Since: Jan 30, 2007
Posted on: January 8, 2011 9:30 am

NCAA: The No Consistency Athletic Association

No mixed feelings for me, it was the right ruling but I have problems with it.

OK, discrimination is the case that presents a problem for me.  


It would actually be pretty easy for Kanter to prove that fact even though the instances are different, it is clear that prejudicial treatment has been given to other players in similar even not exact circumstances.

I don't think any one cares except for the fact that the rules seem to be different for different players

I mean Kanter took money, he should not be allowed to play.  Nor should Josh Selby, nor should the Five from OSU, Sidney took a whole lot of money (including a free house), Duke should have an NCAA stripped for the Maggette situation, Cam Newton shouldn't be playing in an upcoming bowl or Memphis should have their wins back and Camby should be able to pay back his impermissible benefits and get their UMASS get their Final Four Back, UK gets two years of suspension lifted if they produce $1000 and get their wins back, K-State players not suspended, and the most riduculous one of all is Tom Izzo should get his win back when he got suspended the other day.

Key point is inconsistent application of the rules which by the strictest definition is  discrimination.

We all (that means Memphis Fans, Duke Fans, Michigan State Fans, Miss State Fans, OSU fans, etc.) should make a stink about this one to make certain that strict application of the rules are followed from here on in.  Write your congressmen and senators let them know about a corrupt organization which is really as bad as organized crime (hopefully without the killing but I am not so sure anymore).  The NCAA is clearly messed up and they need to be stopped for the good of the student athlete.

His whole being an undergraduate coach thing I think is a classy move and I guarantee he will not be allowed to do anything that would jeapordize this teams chances.

I am glad its done, for good or for bad.  We all know that if we had Kanter you might as well prepare to cut down the nets because we have an unbelievable 7/8 man rotation that would be one of the best to ever be placed on an NCAA floor.  We are still pretty good without him but we are beatable.

Since: Jan 8, 2011
Posted on: January 8, 2011 8:26 am

NCAA: The No Consistency Athletic Association

Trying to rate this article as a 5, but it will not let you get past checking the first star?  Conspiracy????? Mmmmmmmmmmm!

Since: Jan 8, 2011
Posted on: January 8, 2011 8:23 am

NCAA: The No Consistency Athletic Association

Great article - non-biased in the approach but very sensical in the argument.  No one has said what I have been thinking but but there are others feel the same way.  It's as if NCAA has enforce a reverse discrimination for those who have money and who are non-minority.  Sad, sad, sad.  To say we are all for the student athlete and then deny half of that equation does not speak very highly for the educators on the committee.  As an educator, I would do ALL I could to ensure a student would stay in school.

Since: Feb 28, 2008
Posted on: January 8, 2011 7:55 am

NCAA: The No Consistency Athletic Association

No, it isn't safe to assume Kanter will be leaving UK...not yet anyway.  He is staying on as an undergraduate student assistant coach.  Then prepare for being a top 5 pick in the NBA.

Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: January 8, 2011 7:34 am

NCAA: The No Consistency Athletic Association

Really the only relevant case raised here as a comparison is that of Selby.
Newton's father asked for, but did not receive any money.  At least not that anyone has proven to date.  Whether or not Cam knew is irrelevant.  No money changed hands, so how can Cam be indicted?  His father could, but his father isn't asking to play.
The Ohio State five have been caught and punished, not for taking money, but for selling things they should not have sold.  No one was paying them to play football.  
Selby, OTOH, received "improper benefits" totaling approximately $7,500.  That was not, to my knowledge (and I have not read the documentation, I admit) a direct cash payment.
Kanter got paid.  Whether the money went to his father because he was a minor, or because his father took the "salary" without him knowing is irrelevant.  He got paid to play basketball.  Not to go to training camp, or skills camp, or any of those other European dodges.  I live in Europe, and I know how most of the systems work.  They don't pay players.  They don't give money to the players' parents to cover later, unnamed "educational expenses."  It's true Kanter didn't get paid much, but consider this: maybe that was because he and/or his father eventually planned to send him to college in the USA and they thought it would be better this way.  Take a small amount and either no one notices, or you can explain it as "educational expenses."  Fact is, Kanter got paid to play basketball.
If you insist that Selby did too, fine.  Kanter can play after, let's see: 33,000/7,500= four and something.  Selby got nine games, Kanter gets 40 and has to repay the money.  Would that be fair?  Would Kanter stick?  If so, I'd be fine with it.  If not ... go pro.  Again.

Since: Sep 18, 2008
Posted on: January 8, 2011 2:32 am

NCAA: The No Consistency Athletic Association

While I'm no fan of the NCAA, it's SERIOUSLY to get over the Enes Kanter melodrama. I really feel bad for the kid. He just wanted to play in college. I don't think he did anything wrong; that was left up to those closest to him. I certainly don't feel sorry for Kentucky. They're playing exceptionally well and are a pleasure to watch. So let's put down the posters and focus on the games. It's January and conference season is here.

Since: Jan 8, 2011
Posted on: January 8, 2011 1:48 am

Don't shed any tears

Hard to feel sorry for Kanter as he was one and done and will be making millions in the NBA soon.  Can't feel sorry for Kentucky either when you look at their current record and recruiting classes.

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