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Boise State is Not the Only Program in NCAA Hot Water

When the NCAA went after Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel who was accused of lying to hide certain violations by players, some of us were left snickering.  Ohio State received a "notice of allegations" that was sent to the school from the NCAA that said the alleged Ohio State violations relating to the coach are considered "potential major violations."   And now the Ohio State/Tressel mess has escalated and they must go before the NCAA's committee on infractions on August 12th.  Just watching Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee twist and squirm was somehow very satisfying after his "little sisters of the poor" comment.

But now that the shoe is on the other foot, it isn't so funny.  At least for Boise State fans, anyway.  As previously reported here Boise State has been thrown to the forefront of an NCAA recuiting scandal of its own and has admitted to a series of rule violations in the football and tennis programs.  An NCAA inquiry has identified 22 allegations dating from 2005 that includes football, men and women's tennis, and track and field.  Boise State President Bob Kustra has said publicly that he is disappointed about the possible violations and says wrongdoing is unacceptable behavior.  His statement followed an internal investigation by the school itself that began in 2009.  That investigation resulted in the termination of several coaches after one of those violations emerged as a serious breech of the rules in the women's tennis program.

Outside Boise State's administrative circle, there is widespread disappointment in BSU's alleged violations of NCAA rules no matter how petty or how serious they might be.  Rule violations can tarnish the accomplishments of any program, and bring penalties that can harm and even destroy a university's athletic program.  And the stigma can last for years.  Just ask Southern Methodist University about their "Sudden Death" penalty in 1987.  Or even our own University of New Mexico, who will end their three year probation this year after it was imposed by the NCAA in 2008 that cut of five scholarships as punishment for academic violations involving two former assistant coaches.

At least Boise State not alone out there under the NCAA microscope. 

Conference USA's Universty of Central Florida is finding itself in the rifle sights of an NCAA recruiting scandal.  The university has been contacted by the NCAA after reports pointed out alleged recruiting violations in several of their sports programs.  Of concern for UCF is the fact that they are already on probation for major recruiting violations and it comes at a time when they are hoping for an invite to the Big East conference.  In the present case, ESPN and the New York times have both reported a connection between the university's basketball and football programs and a Chicago man with a criminal record who has apparent ties to an agency that represents NBA players.  This man was instrumental in UCF's recruiting of two basketball players and at least one football player.  The university is now conducting its own internal review but will undoubtedly find itself in front of the NCAA's committee on infractions.  

The University of Georgia has self-reported secondary NCAA violations to the SEC as well.  That comes on the heels of several others.  As a result, Georgia had to report a total of five NCAA rules violations. Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity reported the violations in March in a letter to SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. 

In February the NCAA gave notice that both the Tennessee basketball coach and a former football coach committed recruiting violations along with a statement that the programs do not promote an atmosphere of compliance of NCAA rules.  That has kept the Tennessee Vols busy with how they will respond to those charges.  The university has until May 21 to respond to the NCAA's allegations and the school is expected to appear at a June 10 meeting of the Committee on Infractions. Any decision on eventual sanctions by the NCAA would come several weeks after that. 

The University of Missouri has also reported a total of 77 secondary NCAA rule violations that has taken place over the past two years in their athletic department.  Like Boise State, they were largely self-reported.  The NCAA was quick to rule that their violations were "inadvertent or isolated violations rather than a systemic problem."  In the two year span, the MU men’s basketball team reported eight violations and the football team reported 17 violations to the NCAA. The MU track and field and softball teams were also involved in violations.

"Reporting secondary violations is a healthy thing to do. And it’s something we do all the time," Missouri athletic director Mike Alden said.

For now the NCAA has not seen fit to charge either Georgia, UCF, Tennessee, or UM with a "lack of institutional control" as they did with Boise State.  The NCAA report on Boise State is expected to take several months.  And with the NCAA under fire over how they have recently handled high-profile schools such as Ohio State, Auburn, and the University of Southern California, there is a worry that they will overreact in the case of a Boise State or Universiy of Central Florida in an effort to show the sports world they will move harshly to enforce rules and punish violators.  Rules are rules, most would argue, and violations of what some would consider petty often escalate to bigger and bigger violations with heavier sanctions.  But in coming to grips with the NCAA violations, many experts hope that the NCAA will at least try to keep things fair for all schools concerned. 

And right now, that is the best outcome Boise State fans can hope for.