Have you ever been in a courtroom to watch a guilty plea hearing? It’s a tension-filled environment, and for many reasons. But I can tell you from personal experience (as a PROFESSIONAL - geeze, people!) that much of the tension felt by the participants is that some other participant will go off-script and annoy the judge. The prosecutor is worried about law enforcement, the defense attorney is worried about his client, and both are worried that the victim might sound off at the wrong time. All these concerns are based on hard experience won from similar past events, where someone speaks out of turn and the judge rejects the deal that everyone worked so long and hard to reach.
And so it is after this weekend, which saw the HBC, Dr. Pastides, and the-guy-who-hires-and-fires-the-men’s-basketball-coach all fly out to the golden hills of Los Angeles to appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions. The Gamecock delegation was summoned to explain to the higher-ups just how several of our football players could have possibly negotiated leases at a local apartment complex, and how an alumnus could dare to go to work for a not-for-profit that helps young basketball hopefuls.
By all accounts Carolina had an impressive package deal worked out, which would see us fall on our swords and admit wrongdoing, pay a fine, cut a couple/three scholarships, and promise to . . . I don’t know here, maybe not let our players sign apartment leases or not let the private companies that own those lease get lax if someone misses a payment, or maybe prohibit our graduates from going on to work with at-risk youth.
Regardless, the collective wisdom out there on the internet strongly recommends that we all hold our tongues (or keyboards, or whatever) and hope that we don’t inadvertently say something that will anger the NCAA. The governing body is just itching to slam us, I guess, and we would all be wise to avoid giving them an excuse. So, I won’t go off-script. I won’t put the deal at risk.
Y’all can all relax.
I won’t suggest that the entire investigation was a stinking pile of dog poo trumped up by a local sports reporter high on hair gel. I promise, I won’t.
And I won’t even point out the bitter irony that we are currently on probation for improperly tutoring (yes, that’s right) prospective student athletes while one of our conference foes suffered no admonition when it recently won a coveted BCS crystal with a player that was widely recognized as having been bought by the highest bidder.
I won’t point out to the NCAA that the fact they know EXACTLY what and whom I was alluding to in the above-paragraph is just another example of how feckless and annoying their whole system of justice is. I won’t even go there.
I will absolutely refrain from rehashing all the evidence that Clemson Tiger University, a football program built on open and blatant paying of players, is still
paying players getting wads of cash from rich aunts winning the lottery on NSD just foolin with around with money and a camera today with no apparent negative attention.
I won’t dare point out that the most storied programs out there – the Bama’s and the Miami’s and the Southern Cal’s – all seem to cheat at every turn, and when the stench of their abuses finally grows so distinct that even the NCAA overlords can’t blame it on the dog any longer, the punishments that are handed down don’t seem to put a dent in the strange competitive advantages those schools enjoy.
I won’t call the system a joke, or the penalties asininely inconsistent.
No, I’ll just keep my head down, stay on the script, and hope the judge accepts the deal.