by Clark Groome
After watching the goings on in the NCAA and NFL the last couple of weeks it’s clear that common sense is missing in action or, in the case of the NFL, non-action.
When Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was suspended for two games for dragging his unconscious fiancée from an Atlantic City elevator – an act caught on videotape – the entire watching world felt that the punishment didn’t fit the crime.
It was clear to everyone that Rice had knocked Janay Palmer out in the elevator – clear to everyone except the person who counts: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. He was perfectly happy to suspend a player who was caught using pot for four games but didn’t think domestic violence was one-half as severe.
After a while, Goodell changed his mind and said that “in the future” people charged with Ray Rice-type acts would get a six-game suspension for the first act and a lifetime ban if it were repeated. Still not enough, but better.
Then last week a videotape of what happened inside that Revel Casino elevator surfaced, confirming what everybody except Goodell knew months ago. When that tape was seen publicly, the NFL suspended Rice indefinitely and the Ravens dropped him from its roster.
Questions have arisen about what Goodell knew and when he knew it. Some say the tape had been delivered to the NFL back in April. Goodell says he never saw it. Rice says he told the commissioner exactly what happened. Goodell says he didn’t.
Rice has entered an anger management program, and Palmer and Rice have since gotten married.
It’s a mess.
Although it’s unlikely the owners will act, Goodell should be fired. Whether or not he saw the tape, he was absolutely tone deaf from the beginning.
As misguided and insensitive as that is, nothing in recent memory is as flat out stupid as what the NCAA did to University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma last week.
Here’s what happened. During this year’s Little League World Series, the one that featured Philadelphia Taney Dragons and their pitcher Mo’ne Davis, Davis said repeatedly that her goal was to play college basketball at UConn, the country’s best women’s b-ball program.
So coach Auriemma, a Philly boy himself, called Mo’ne to wish her luck.
According to NCAA rules coaches are not allowed to contact high school students about recruitment until their junior year. The key words are “high school students” and “recruitment.”
Mo’ne, at the time, was getting ready to enter the 8th grade. By no definition is 8th grade high school.
And Auriemma’s phone call was to wish a kid well, a kid who had brought tons of attention to his city and his school. The call was not about recruiting.
The NCAA has determined that Auriemma committed a rules violation.
Like the stupidity of the NFL’s commissioner, the NCAA has demonstrated that clearly it’s not a necessity to apply common sense to decisions that affect its players and those who follow sports.
Maybe it would be a good idea if those folks who are overseeing the country’s most prestigious colleges and universities would follow one of those institutions’ primary functions: teaching students to think. Perhaps that’s too much to ask. Or, perhaps, these highly paid executives feel that exercising power, even in a ridiculous way, trumps thinking.