Having been to Louisville,Kentucky in 2012 for the first two rounds of the NCAA Basketball tournament, better known to most as March Madness, I grew a fond attachment to the Cardinals athletic program, having been a fan ever since. The men's basketball program particularly has been a staple in the state of Kentucky as the program rose to prominence from being an afterthought in the early nineties to a Rick Pitino led men's powerhouse culminating in a National Championship in 2013.
On February 5th, a dark day, perhaps the darkest day took place in the program's history. A self imposed tournament ban was issued on behalf of the institution. For what you ask, a pre-emptive strike at the expense of a recruiting issue the NCAA is currently investigating. So that's right, to clarify, the school is punishing the players, the kids who have dreamt their entire lives of participating in March Madness due to a mistake or oversight, however you want to slice it, that the athletical department made in attempts to recruit the nations best. How is this justifiable? It's not, it's a travesty and repercussions and pre agreed upon penalties when facing these types of situations need to be arranged so this never happens again.
If an employee steals money from his or her's organization, does head office clamp down and fire it's entire staff? Heck no, they punish the individual who committed the crime. I respect the fact that the University of Louisville is cooperating with the investigation at hand but the way they're admitting or accepting responsibility I view as contradictory. A violation of recruitment rules was clearly present here judging from the school's self imposed penalties they have issued but I question the legitimacy of their internal investigation. An individual(s) are at fault for the mess that's been created, why has the investigation from the NCAA or L'Ville(one of many ways Kentuckians pronounce the great city) not focused on the few that are responsible and discipline those appropriately? By banning the players, the innocent bystanders if you will, all that has been accomplished is that it's been made abundantly clear that the University doesn't care about their students, and as a cop-out at the risk of opening a can of worms that they want to keep secret from the powers at be will sacrifice the good fortunes and entertainment to their student body to save the institutions belittling reputation.
Now, I'll take this a step further and correlate my frustrations with this into something that revolved around a much more sensitive matter that played out at Penn St University regarding the Joe Sandusky sex abuse scandal. Despicable act, not condoning actions of anyone involved here, but similar to Louisville, the Nittany Lions received a post-season ban as a penalty for the university's lack of eptness in how they handled this unbearable longevic, disgusting behavior. A post-season ban for the players in this scenario aswell? The players should've been aided, not punished. I'm not going to spend time parlaying my thoughts how decisions like this put the abused in a more vulnerable life decline because kids knowing the possible price that their OWN friends and OWN school may have to pay will scare them into speaking the truth. This cycle is damaging and needs to stop, and a better hierarchy in handling these kind of sensitive matters needs to be developed because in 2016, particularly with abuse, this should NEVER be tolerated and each individual on this earth must have the confidence to speak up and stop it before it happens to someone else.
Ok, I realize I went a tad off topic with that latest tangent but I feel strongly about that and it's up to the NCAA to alter it's principles. Now getting back to the topic at hand, this is what I would propose to rectify the lose-lose game that currently best describes the players point of view: If a university self imposes, or if the head body imposes any kind of ban on a school for a school violation, allow the players the following. Provide the option, if the player chooses to partake in a immediate transfer. I'm fully aware with the way rules are currently construed it states that a player that elects to transfer will be required to red shirt the following semester. Rules are rules, but provisions can be constituted and this should be one of those exception. A school infraction should translate into immediate transfer availability. Wrapping this back around to Louisville, it's disheartening that fifth year seniors Trey Lewis and Damion Lee won't have the life enriching opportunity of playing in the tournament. You play your whole collegiate athletic careers to reach this pinnacle especially when you have a team like the Cardinals who could've inflicted serious damage on the tournament,
NCAA, in the future, do the right thing. Look after your students!