For too long the NCAA has been a toothless snake, weaving and bobbing its head threateningly at U.S. academic institutions while never daring to finally strike.And then, just like that, it went for the jugular – 65 jugulars in fact.
The NCAA announced Wednesday that 99 teams at 65 universities will be losing scholarships for failing to meet student-athlete academic standards. Although this represents only a minute fraction of Division-I sports nationwide, even the smallest action is better than the lack of effort America is growing accustomed to.
Of course, the first two questions that hit people’s minds are who and how much. Not surprisingly, no big schools caught the full edge of the axe. Out of the six power conferences – ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Southeastern and Pac-10 – only the Big East’s DePaul was sanctioned in either football or basketball, and they might only lose one scholarship.
Smaller schools were not so lucky: Temple lost nine football scholarships.
Impossibly, the NCAA has had enough. The organization that has been consistently plagued by petulant, spoiled children like Maurice Clarett and Mike Williams has finally put its foot down. It has drawn a sword wielded through frustration to sever the academic feeding tubes schools provide to their athletes – tubes designed to sustain their young men and women just long enough for them to fulfill their on-field purposes.
And for once, it appears that the NCAA is poised to not just strike, but move in for the subsequent kill as well. Expect to see more casualties in the near future, as several schools have yet to fully complete the report process.
So although athletic directors, coaches and athletes have spent the last decade running wildly through the fields of NCAA policy, it’s time for all to start treading a little more carefully: there’s a snake lurking in this grass now.
Sports editor Travis Stewart for the editorial board.