PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – OCTOBER 8
By Leo Haggerty
I’ve been all over the National Collegiate Athletic Association for its lack of leadership during the pandemic. I assume the question that begs to be asked is why has the NCAA chosen to be conspicuously silent when it comes to issuing directives for its member institutions.
So, let’s change the playing field, shall we? if the NCAA had started to send mandates to all the colleges and universities under its jurisdiction, what type of outcome could have transpired? Let’s take two possible scenarios and examine what could have been the result of those edicts.
For argument sake, let’s suppose that the NCAA had sent a directive that all schools should commence with all Fall sports. What would be the possible ramifications that could come out of that decision?
If all the member schools had commenced with Fall sports, and one of the individuals involved with an athletic program caught Covid-19 and succumbed to the illness, what would happen next? Let’s examine what that would entail.
If there were any legal issues, and there most assured would be, the onus would fall on the NCAA. The individual school could argue that they were forced to participate and that, if they were given the choice, they would have opted to wait until it was deemed safer to participate. Basically, throwing the NCAA “under the bus” when it comes to liability.
Now, what if the NCAA had gone in the opposite direction and ruled that all Fall sports would be postponed to a later date or cancelled completely. What possible outcomes come out of that decision?
Well, now there would be a plethora of lawsuits that would have been brought by players and parents. Those legal documents would be directed at the NCAA for the same reason as I had offered for the first situation. No liability for the individual schools and all the liability for the NCAA.
After looking at those two possible outcomes, it’s painfully obvious that the lawyers for the NCAA had all the input into the governing bodies lack of leadership. I can surmise that they convinced NCAA President Mark Emmert and the powers-that-be in Indianapolis that no action was the best action for the governing body.
I truly believe that the PAC 12 and the Big Ten, when they saw that the liability would be shifted to them if they chose to commence athletics, chose to delay initiation of competition until it was safer. That was the prudent thing to do when there was no vaccine or even a reliable same-day test available.
There’s a line in the movie Major League II that applies directly to the NCAA’s decision to do nothing. It’s when Isuro “Kamikazi” Tanaka calls out Pedro Cerrano accusing him of having “no marbles” and I don’t need to extrapolate on the meaning of that statement for my loyal readers.
There have been times in the past where the NCAA has had no qualms about disciplining a school for what they referred to as a lack of institutional control. There have also been occasions where the NCAA has “looked the other way” when a school has committed similar egregious violations.
Today, I’m accusing the NCAA of having “no marbles” when it comes to taking the lead in the method schools should proceed with beginning interscholastic play. I believe, after reading this article, you would concur that the NCAA is guilty as charged!