Tuesday, February 14, 2012

NCAA "Justice"?

In recent months, New York Times op-ed columnist Joe Nocera, has been on a screed against the National Collegiate Athletic Association and its’ so called “justice” system. Nocera’s recent series of critical commentary focuses primarily on the NCAA’s failure to provide athletes an opportunity to answer charges levied against them by NCAA officials in contravention of America’s fundamental principle of “innocent until proven guilty.” Nocera highlights that the NCAA system of accusations and investigations is more akin to "guilty until proven innocent"and is a far cry from any generally accepted due process standard. According to Nocera, because the NCAA dictates college athlete’s eligibility with such fervor, it consistently hammers the due process rights of athletes by accusing them of fairly insignificant charges without giving the players any real opportunity to dispute the charges, many of which are based on incomprehensible and petty rules.

For example, Nocera writes about Temi Fagbenle, a female basketball player at Harvard that the NCAA forced to forfeit a year of eligibility because she repeated her junior year of high school after transferring from England. Had she started high school in America and repeated or stayed in England and finished high school there, she would have been fine. Nocera also examines the case of Ryan Boatright, a men's basketball player at University of Connecticut. Boatright has had to endure intense pressure (and suspension) from the NCAA while it examined the “suspicious” circumstances that surround his single mother – including her receiving money from friends for Christmas. How can children be punished for the deeds of their parents — deeds that aren’t even wrong in any basic legal sense?,” writes Nocera.

The NCAA claims it has an effective judicial process. Nocera challenges this claim in his string of articles that highlights that the NCAA cares little about an individual athlete and the repercussions an investigation will have on his or her future, when it believes that one of its rules has been broken. Nocera believes that the NCAA is out-of-control because it refuses to allow basic due process rights to the student athletes of its member institutions following an accusation of wrong doing.