O’Neil: Of course the NCAA uses the most ineffective, toothless sanctions

Feb 21, 2018, 8:50 AM | Updated: 10:28 am
Louisville banners...
The NCAA has ordered Louisville to vacate its 2013 national championship, which is sure to change absolutely nothing. (AP)

The NCAA is stripping Louisville of the national championship its basketball team won in 2013.


That’s not quite right because it was use of escorts in recruiting that ignited the investigation that resulted in the order to nullify Louisville’s 2013 national championship.

What a joke.

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Not the infractions, mind you. The punishment. And nothing speaks to the head-in-the-sand ineffectiveness of the NCAA more than the revisionist history the organization pawns off as actual punishment.

Vacated wins? That changes nothing aside from the team’s media guide and perhaps a piece of laundry or two hung inside an arena.

Are we supposed to erase the memory of Peyton Siva leading the Louisville Cardinals through the NCAA tournament? Because I won’t, and I don’t think I should. Those players that made that team great weren’t responsible for the actions of the assistant coach. I’m not going to be able to forget the broken leg that Kevin Ware suffered that year, which was both heart breaking and stomach turning and provided an emotional backdrop to the team’s title.

Erasing results certainly doesn’t change what actually happened. We all saw the games. We all know who won. But more importantly, erasing results doesn’t change what a school, athlete or booster will do going forward. What it does is try to cover up the structural problems of big-time college athletics with a veil of shame that the NCAA tries to drape over the offending athletes or coaches.

If you really want to punish a school? Ban it from the NCAA Tournament AND open the door for every player to transfer without penalty. That would actually hurt the school, though, so the NCAA wouldn’t ever do that. Not when you can make a big show of huffing and puffing and changing pretty much nothing.

This is finger wagging at its absolute most ineffectual. John Calipari had his Final Four appearance with UMass vacated because of all the illicit benefits Marcus Camby received, and he learned his lesson so well that his Final Four appearance with Memphis was later vacated because of issues with the SAT score of one of the players.
Say this for Calipari, he hasn’t had to vacate any of his accomplishments at Kentucky … yet.

Not that I feel bad for Louisville because I don’t. That school has made it pretty clear for an awful long time the kind of behavior it was willing to tolerate in its basketball program. After all, details from an extortion trial and the employment of prostitutes in the recruiting process weren’t enough to prompt a coaching change at that school. It took an actual FBI investigation before Rick Pitino was fired, so I’m not sure how big of an impact removing a banner will have.

The Kraken master? So should we just start talking about Seattle’s new hockey team as if it’s a given? Kind of seems that way. They’re taking $500 deposits for season tickets starting March 1 and there’s already speculation that some guy named Ken Holland could become the GM of the franchise, which is … ummm … good news, I guess.

But as I was starting to wonder what Holland’s hiring would mean, I thought back to some front-office news that was heralded at the time, but appears much different now. Phil Jackson had talked about being part of the Sonics renaissance back five years ago when Chris Hansen was trying to buy the Kings. Now, this was when Jackson was still seen as the sport’s Zen master as opposed to resembling the dead guy from “Weekend at Bernie’s” which is the role he seemed to play while in charge of the New York Knicks.

So I’m going to wait until Seattle gets a team and hires a GM before I start assuming what kind of GM he would be.

Locals only: Monday was one of the coldest days of the year I waited in a line that stretched outside for ice cream. That should give you an idea of the deliciousness of Salt & Straw, which has opened two locations here in Seattle. Now, usually, I’m against patronizing anything that originates in Portland whether it’s Voodoo Donuts or Stumptown Coffee or even the Leatherman tool. It’s a personal bias. I left Oregon behind almost 30 years ago, and I like to think that anything that state can do, we can do better.

Not in this case, though. Salt & Straw is incomparable. I waited 18 minutes on Monday afternoon in Capitol Hill to order a scoop of vanilla that included Beecher’s flagship cheese (yeah, cheese in ice cream) with peppercorn toffee. It was incredible even if I was eating it while wearing gloves and an ear-flap Elmer Fudd hat.

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O’Neil: Of course the NCAA uses the most ineffective, toothless sanctions