Very interesting perspective from Joe Nocera in the NYT as he looks at the typical way that the NCAA enforcement process occurs when it applies to individual student-athletes.
One of my ongoing gripes is the fact that the student-athlete has nobody to truly represent them outside the institution. Therefore, unless their family can pay the freight and support the expenses, the student-athlete is left to rely on the representation provided by the institution. That relationship is full of conflicts and rarely really represents the student-athlete.
While Joe Nocera has received some flak for potential conflicts of interest and taking a very harsh view, he does point out a lot of interesting contradictions between the current system and typical due process requirements.
When the N.C.A.A. investigates an athlete for breaking its rules, not only is he presumed guilty but his punishment begins before he knows what he’s accused of. He is not told who his accuser is. The N.C.A.A. will delve into the personal relationships of his relatives and demand their bank statements and other private records. And it will hand down its verdict without so much as a hearing. Reputations have been ruined on accusations so flimsy that they would be laughed out of any court in the land. Then again, the N.C.A.A. isn’t a court of law. It’s more powerful.
Like most sports fans, I had always assumed that if an athlete was sanctioned by the N.C.A.A., he must have done something wrong. I don’t assume that anymore. Many N.C.A.A. infractions consist of actions that most people would consider perfectly appropriate — and entirely legal — but that the N.C.A.A. has chosen to criminalize.