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Commentary: Media shouldn’t expect much from NCAA institutions

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Reports of the NCAA’s death are greatly exaggerated.

Even though criticism of their inability to fix a system that exploits college athletes is at an all-time high, their unjust rules have never been as rigorously enforced as they are now.

This is not a direct result of stricter punishments or schools beefing up their compliance staffs — many run in blissful ignorance of the rules, as it is. The sports media is the one who plays a peculiarly large role in enforcing the NCAA’s antiquated regulations. Even if the agenda of a sportswriter is to expose, the unintended consequence is that they are holding institutions accountable by the NCAA’s rules — minus levying the punishment.

Charles Robinson, reporter for Yahoo! Sports, spent 11 months investigating and writing a takedown of the Miami (Fla.) football and basketball programs.

The bulk of the article is based on the testimony of former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, currently serving a prison sentence for orchestrating a $930 million Ponzi scheme.

Robinson’s piece includes a section dedicated solely to outlining each player implicated and the violations he committed. This specifically targets the student-athletes who are simply trying to get a share of what they deserve, since they are forced into a system that exploits them.

With the incredible amount of detail outlined in most of Robinson’s report, the NCAA acted by suspending multiple players from this year’s Hurricanes squad and is likely to hit the Miami program with heavy sanctions. This is the same program that nearly fell apart in the 1990s — it committed a series of violations while it was at its peak in the early part of the decade and throughout the ’80s. Similar violations have occurred at numerous programs, particularly since large television contracts were infused into college athletics in the ‘80s. The magnifying glass on Ohio State in that regard has never been as big as it is now.

After self-reporting the violations surrounding the lazily-named “tattoo-gate,” it’s no surprise that media entities encircled the school and continued to attempt to “expose” the school.

George Dohrmann’s article in Sports Illustrated regurgitated already-widely known facts and contained damning offenses such as an anonymous source claiming that Jim Tressel rigged a raffle more than 20 years ago. In all, it was very unbecoming of a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer.

Even The Lantern, has gotten in on the act by running with Ray Small’s allegations that he was among the many that received improper benefits during his time at Ohio State.

History proves that the weight of the claims on these programs and players has only served to reinforce and not dismantle the system.

For each scandal the media exposes comes public scrutiny for institutions and their athletes because of sins against the NCAA’s over-ambitious goal of amateurism.

Fact is, the NCAA has conducted major college athletics as if they were professional sports for years. It’s time for the media to realize that and to stop holding schools to standards that aren’t really attainable.

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