The NCAA has a policy of never commenting publicly on an ongoing investigation, but for the epic maelstrom of malfeasance uncovered at Miami, apparently it's willing to make an exception.
That exception arrived Wednesday in the form of a statement from (suddenly very busy) president Mark Emmert, published at the NCAA website. It reads in full:
If the assertions are true, the alleged conduct at the University of Miami is an illustration of the need for serious and fundamental change in many critical aspects of college sports. This pertains especially to the involvement of boosters and agents with student-athletes. While many are hearing about this case for the first time, the NCAA has been investigating the matter for five months. The serious threats to the integrity of college sports are one of the key reasons why I called together more than 50 presidents and chancellors last week to drive substantive changes to Division I intercollegiate athletics.We won't argue with Emmert that college football needs some "serious and fundamental change" if it's to continue its status as an amateur sport for "student-athletes," or that the actions of Nevin Shapiro -- or, more specifically, Miami's inaction in response -- are the most powerful argument presented yet in that change's favor.
But we're skeptical Emmert simply reasserting his position while that particular iron in hot really what issuing this statement is about. The key sentence in it is this one:
While many are hearing about this case for the first time, the NCAA has been investigating the matter for five months.In recent months, the NCAA has taken a heavy dose of criticism for lagging behind as the media -- Yahoo! Sports, as often as not -- do their enforcement work for them. (See the media's unraveling of Jim Tressel's e-mail coverup for one example.) For once, though, the NCAA did not find out about serious allegations when the "many" of the public did--and from the looks of things, Emmert can't help but take the opportunity to crow about it.
We don't blame Emmert for being sensitive to the regular blasts of criticism aimed his organization's way; while much of it is deserved, much of it is entirely unfounded and unfair as well.
But this kind of passive-aggressive response isn't exactly the best way of firing back at those critics. Yes, it's good to hear the NCAA has been on the case. But given the magnitude of Shapiro's misdeeds, it's hardly such an achievement that it's necessary for Emmert to break with years of steadfast policy just to beat his chest about it.