It's a Monday morning after the first weekend of the NFL season, so few general, Joe Q Six Pack sports fans are invested in the college hoops scene, what with everyone eager to quarterback. (My analysis: the Bears are winning the Super Bowl. NEXT QUESTION.)
Somehow, we press on over here in our digs, and I wanted to bring this item to your attention.There was a good column filled with a lot of curiosity written by Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant over the wekend. Jacobs has been on fire this year, and I thank him for giving the blog a little bit of extra content fuel.
Jacobs -- probably the most outspoken sportswriter at any of the Connecticut newspapers -- had been mainly silent since the news of Andre Drummond's arrival to Connecticut's campus. Why? Why did the most prominent sports voice at the state's biggest newspaper sit on this for so long? Well, he wanted to talk to the NCAA, particuarly president Mark Emmert first. But it appears Emmert wasn't made available to discuss why a program that's been put on probation, that's suspended Jim Calhoun for three games, that won a national championship despite living under the heat lamp of the NCAA for the better part of the past two years, was able maneuver within the system once again.
Going to UConn for answers does nothing. All you'll get from the school is a quaint and correct, "We worked within the system that's allowed."
On Friday came my answer from Erik Christianson, NCAA director of public and media relations: "We do not know the specific details of this situation, so we encourage you to contact the institution for that information."
So much for expanding the public discussion.
Jacobs makes the point that UConn isn't at fault here, and he's exactly right. It's faulty to blame a school for finding ways to win within the weak/manipulable rules that are already at play. UConn knew it could get Andre Drummond in this year and knew it'd have to boot someone off the scholarship docket to do so. Turns out it's Michael Bradley, a kid who grew up in a Tennessee group home who's taking the hit. (He'll no doubt end up not really incurring that debt, right? So who's ultimately paying for that, and when?) With Drummond, the Huskies a legitimate national championship team, the first group with that acclaim coming off a title since Florida five years ago.
And the reason Drummond's even learning about the best and most boring spots in all of Storrs, Conn., is because the NCAA still has a one-year-renewal scholarship policy. A mini contract for players the institution vehemently refers to as amateurs. If you implement a four-year -- or even a two-year -- scholarship policy/guarantee, Drummond is at St. Thomas More Prep right now, gearing up for a quiet post-grad season. Jacobs merely wanted to ask Emmert about that, above anything else.
But the NCAA hides and deflects issues to its member institutions. How is that leadership? Sitting back and allowing UConn to do what it did without so much as a comment isn't indicative of new policy, it's proof of continued contentment with so many of the system's flawed keystones. Emmert and Co. look compliant and complacent in place of proactive and perturbed over how UConn's seemingly gotten stronger despite sanctions for violations that would've forced 99 percent of programs to find a new head coach.