The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) wrapped up its annual convention in Indianapolis this past week. Division II passed legislation welcoming colleges and universities from Mexico into the Association. It also passed legislation allowing football teams to practice three additional days, and moved the start date of women’s volleyball up a week.
The State of Michigan wrapped up its sentencing hearing of Larry Nassar, the former Michigan State and USA Gymnastics doctor convicted of sexually assaulting female athletes under his care, last week, too. In a somber courtroom in Lansing, 159 girls and young women recounted horrific stories of abuse perpetrated under the guise of medical treatment.
It is ridiculous, unconscionable really, to mention the NCAA in the same sentence with Larry Nassar. Indianapolis and Lansing are about 250 miles apart, but a universe separates the business of that convention and the business of that courtroom.
I had hoped the NCAA had learned its lesson with Penn State and the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
The severe penalties initially imposed upon the Nittany Lions had to be walked back, and most now agree the NCAA getting involved at all was at best an overreach of power, and at worst political grandstanding.
It should be obvious by now that the NCAA has no power beyond its obese rulebook. If it does not fit into a bylaw, well, then it just does not fit.
If the NCAA ultimately understood it had no jurisdiction in North Carolina’s bogus African-American Studies program, then it certainly should recognize it has no power over a member institution employing a criminal and failing to stop his crimes.
But, sure enough, the NCAA has decided to wade into the muddy waters. It has “sent a letter of inquiry to Michigan State regarding potential NCAA rules violations related to the assaults Larry Nassar perpetrated against girls and young women, including some student-athletes at Michigan State.”
I agree Michigan State needs to be held accountable for what its administration knew and when they knew it. But the NCAA is not the organization best equipped to lift that weight.
Stick to running championships, slapping the hands of cheating coaches, and figuring out the best time for volleyball to start practice. You embarrass yourself by trying to do more, and in this case, your involvement serves to trivialize the seriousness of the abuse and horror.
In time, Larry Nassar, and perhaps those who enabled him, will be judged. Just not by the NCAA.