Disclaimer: I graduated from The University of Alabama twice: one undergrad and one graduate degree. I love every thing there is to love about football season from tailgating to shakers to Rammer Jammer to (yes) even the traffic. I can describe in detail the opening of an Alabama gymnastics meet. I can tell you where the best seat at the baseball stadium is. I know how to sneak into the underbelly of Coleman Coliseum. And I know every shortcut imaginable on that beautiful campus. I am PROUD to be an Alabama fan and an alum.
That said, we are not perfect. We make mistakes. We sometimes play like our name alone should win us the game. And more often than not in the 13 years that I’ve been in the Crimson Tide camp, we’ve been on probation by the NCAA…like right now.
Now here’s where my pride in my alma mater might come into question. I know a lot of Bama fans who are really mad at the NCAA as if all this is the NCAA’s fault…as if just because we’ve broken the rules, the NCAA should just look the other way and go about their business. I can’t do that.
So, this may make me a bad alum, but at this point, I don’t really care since I’m tired of the Alabama Athletic Department not monitoring themselves well enough to prevent this. This is not the NCAA’s fault. They are just enforcing the rules they have in place. The fact that the NCAA points out that it could have been worse had Bama not already taken corrective action is generous of them. Technology is advanced enough for this to have been prevented with just a few diligent and NCAA law abiding people running the show. It doesn’t seem to me like it would be all that hard to have a computer program that told you exactly what classes every student athlete is registered for and whether or not he/she has picked up her books for that semester. And when they tried to pick up a book for a class they weren’t registered for, the person behind the counter should then be asking for proof that they are in fact in that class. How hard is this really? Thankfully, the NCAA is punishing the people who committed the infractions rather than punishing future student athletes who haven’t yet tried to do anything wrong or against the rules. I think it’s time to look internally and find ways to clean up the Athletic Department rather than blaming the NCAA.
I also realize that the NCAA is not a perfect entity in any way. There’s a lot going on at USC that is fishy and needs more investigating. And that whole thing with Memphis basketball and the SAT. So they could certainly have their hands in a lot of other areas of the country. Historically, the NCAA has not been consistent in their sanctioning. They’ve given immunity to people who help their investigation despite those helpers having done the same things rather than sanctioning them, too. They’ve slapped people on the wrist for things other people have lost scholarships for. But, God love ’em, they’re NEVER, EVER the ones actually violating the rules governing student-athletes.
Someone needs to be held accountable. And that someone does not reside in an office at NCAA headquarters. Somewhere in Tuscaloosa, AL, someone dropped the ball. It’s troubling to me that people will sit back and say, it’s just textbooks. It’s not just textbooks people. It’s being able to hold our head up high and actually be able to say we won these games fair and square with athletes who are following the rules. That’s really all I want. I just want to be able to have pride a school’s athletic department that does it right.
In the grand scheme of things, this could have been a WHOLE lot worse. What exactly are we vacating? A bunch of wins over three seasons that resulted in ONE…yes ONE bowl win in those 3 years. We’re not losing scholarships. We’re not losing our ability to play in the post season. We’re being slapped on the wrist by having previous things taken away. So I say we take this punishment and run with it. And use it as a jumping off point for actually cleaning up the Athletic Department…this time.
Perhaps one day I’ll be able to say that in the last 13 years, we’ve been in good standing more often than not.