By Joe Giordano II Contributing Writer
Consider the following situation: your parent or family member commits a crime. The police come to investigate the crime and decide to punish both you and your parent even though you had nothing to do with crime. This makes little to no sense and most people would complain that such a punishment is unfair and unjust.
However, this unfair treatment of people who have nothing to do with crimes has become almost a precedent among college sports. The NCAA and universities across the country have consistently punished student athletes for the infractions of university presidents and coaches. Many of these infractions have nothing to do with the athletes themselves, yet they are punished as such. Most recently, Syracuse University announced they would be putting a self-inflicted postseason ban on the men’s basketball team due to an ongoing investigation run by the NCAA. The student athletes themselves committed no crime but rather the coaching staff of the university. But in the long run, who is this punishment really affecting? The short answer: the players.
The NCAA is currently investigating whether or not the Syracuse men’s basketball team, specifically head coach Jim Boeheim, committed recruiting violations. The self-inflicted ban on postseason play is Syracuse’s attempt to take the “moral high ground.” However, many find it convenient that the year that Syracuse has a lackluster team by their standards is the year they decided to take this ban. Also, many people view this as Syracuse’s attempt to get out of the expected NCAA-mandated punishments. They feel as though if they get ahead on the punishments, the NCAA will go easier on their punishment and it they will not be as severe. Instead of accepting Syracuse’s ban, the NCAA should look at this issue from another angle. They should keep one name in mind when discussing their punishment of the Syracuse basketball team: Rakeem Christmas. Rakeem Christmas is senior forward on the Syracuse team and now due to the sanctions placed on the program, will never play another NCAA tournament game again. Christmas was quoted as saying last week, “We are all tremendously disappointed that we are going to miss out on playing in the postseason based on issues that do not involve us. However, we support our school and this won’t change how hard we will continue to work in practice and in games.” Christmas, a player who was worked hard for the Syracuse program for four straight years, will now be punished during his senior year and will not get another opportunity to compete for a national championship. He and the rest of the team had nothing to do with the sanctions, yet they are the ones who are truly being penalized by them.
The NCAA should change the ruling set forth by the university and suspend the people actually responsible for the violation, the coaching staff. The ones actually responsible for the crime should be the ones to take blame, not the players. Let the players play and punish the criminals.
This is not the first time the NCAA has stood by and let those innocent of any infractions take punishment. A prominent example was the Penn State football program a few years ago. The football team suffered tremendously, yet some of the players on the team were not even born at the time of the scandals. The NCAA needs to look inwardly and find a way to change this precedent and help save the seasons of kids who did nothing wrong.
Freshman Joseph Giordano is a contributing writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.