Some perspective on the NCAA investigation

Mike Alden & Quin Snyder

The reactions to the recently-released NCAA investigation of Missouri's basketball program are varied, and somewhat baffling. We'll take a closer look and try to provide a balanced perspective, since you won't likely receive that professional courtesy from certain members of the St. Louis print media.

It's apparent that some media members either haven't been paying attention and are woefully deficient in their historical research related to Missouri's recent basketball problems, or they have chosen to shed the veneer of objectivity and to simply lash out.

We'll lay out the facts and allow you to decide.

First, let's differentiate between the word, "allegation" and "violation". The NCAA report lists several allegations, which do not become violations until either the University agrees with the findings, or until the matter is adjudicated through an appeal process.

Second, I have the 25 page document in front of me and the bulk of the allegations listed related to irregularities based on procedure. The NCAA's regulations allow transport of players and recruits from hotels in certain proscribed ways. They allow for certain types of meals to be provided, and only in certain circumstances. Phone calls can be made, and apparently received, during certain times, but not others.

The point is that the majority of allegations contained in this report are evidence of sloppiness, not systematic corruption. They are the equivilent of jaywalking by NCAA standards. There are rules to prevent people from double parking on the street, however, they aren't often asked to resign for doing so.

These NCAA rules are in place to help prevent an institution from gaining an unfair recruiting advantage over potential schools.

The question is, did any of these allegations provide an advantage to Missouri?

The names of recruits that are specifically listed in this report include the following: Nik Caner-Medley, Walter Waters, Maurice Ager, Robert Whaley, Gid Rinkevicius, Jeff Graves and James White. While Missouri received oral commitments from two of these players, not one ended up becoming part of the Missouri program.

One player who did eventually become part of the Missouri program was Jason Conley. Missouri conceded that an assistant coach had responded to calls from Conley's mother while he was at VMI. What gets lost in the noise surrounding this situation is that the assistant coach in question already received a sanction for that action from the University last summer. Also, does anybody recall Ms. Conley's comments about Missouri doing nothing wrong, and that no less than seven other schools had called her back as well?

Then there are the sections associated with Ricky Clemons. There is the allegation of the hotel movie, the Oakley gear, and a specific payment from an assistant coach. Missouri has publicly acknowledged the Oakley mistake, and is fighting the payment allegation saying that it didn't happen. The hotel movie cost $10. Wow, are they constructing the gallows in Columbia yet?

But while the Bernie Miklaszes of the world would ask you to focus on these events that occurred over a four-year period, what they don't want you to remember are the trail of accusations that they published that weren't substantiated.

You'll recall that numerous and repeated accusations were made last summer and fall regarding academic fraud, systematic payouts to players, and other high-level scandals? Funny thing, through two intensive investigations by the school and the NCAA, none of those allegations were found to have merit.

What is puzzling is why a publication like the St. Louis Post-Dispatch would choose to ignore that there were no findings related to academic fraud or other major violations that they repeatedly trumpeted over the course of many months, and continue to hammer on Quin Snyder as if there were?

The question isn't did Missouri make mistakes or not. Of course mistakes were made at Missouri. However, it's a question of severity and degree. The pedestrian nature of the offenses outlined in the NCAA report show that Quin Snyder needs to tighten down his approach and put some quality control measures in place. That's about it!

True to form, Miklasz was calling for Snyder's head in Wednesday's edition. He said that at least Snyder hadn't "lost his soul," in recognizing that mistakes had been made. I wish the same could be said certain members of the media, Bernie.

Media members from other markets and publications apparently understand the difference between allegations of academic fraud and an impermissible ride from the hotel.

I wonder why the distinction is lost on the Post-Dispatch?

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