Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: The college kids most likely were too tired to make it to class or do homework (after the Memphis-UMass game that started at 11 p.m. local time). I wonder what the TV ratings were? If I was awake, I would have watched, but I was snoozing. The late game was the dumbest all around thing I have heard about in a college sport in a long time!
I actually had a column on this subject pretty much written Monday night -- a column about the hypocrisy of an organization that (at least partly) fights against a playoff in college football because it would extend the season and be bad for the student-athlete then turning around and allowing a mid-week basketball game that tips at 11 p.m. local time to be played. It's crazy, because the UMass players (even with a charter) didn't get home until around 7 a.m. and the Memphis players (despite playing a home game) didn't get back to their apartments until at least 2:30 a.m.
I can't see how the NCAA can preach about the importance of classes and also allow that game to be played.
That's called talking out of both sides of your mouth.
And it's why anybody who tells you academics plays a major role in big-time college athletics is either in charge of selling that message or completely naive. Truth is, money and television dictate everything. That's why we have college football pretty much every night of the week, because when ESPN offers to provide a national audience there will always be somebody there to oblige, and if it happens to mess with somebody's class schedule, well, who cares? In reality, academics for most big-time schools is secondary, and if you don't believe me just consider the theory I developed years ago.
A coach who wins 70 percent of his games but graduates just 10 percent of his players will last a lot longer in college basketball than a man who graduates 70 percent of his players but wins just 10 percent of his games. That's the nature of the big business we've created and why any comments about the "needs of the student-athlete" should be met with rolled eyes because (barring few exceptions) academics only trumps athletics at the high-major level when it's convenient, and classes will rarely prevent two teams from appearing on television even if the start time makes it difficult to, you know, actually make it to those classes.