Leave it to John Canzano to muck it up. His most recent column regarding the 500 pages of documents that the University of Oregon recently released stated that the Ducks should simply go belly-up to their NCAA accusers. Canzano said that “Oregon’s athletic department needs to come to the NCAA, hat in hand, accept its punishment, and let the football program move forward.”
One can presume that Canzano is asking for more punishment than the probation and loss of scholarships (or scholarship, put more accurately), that the Ducks asked for in their request for summary disposition that Oregon sent to the NCAA, which was released as part of the documents. Considering that no one, not even the fire-breathing Canzano, is using the words “lack of institutional control,” its obvious the death penalty is not at stake here. But it’s a fair leap to thing that Canzano is demanding, essentially, that the Ducks stop defending themselves and ask the NCAA to be beaten with a ruler, a ruler that may take the form of a postseason ban and a much more significant scholarship loss.
It would appear to me that Canzano’s demand is unfair. We do not expect criminal defendants to roll over and admit guilt, even when they utilize the services of a public defender, corollary to Canzano’s noting that the athletic department’s legal fees are being paid in part (very small part) through taxpayer funding. A post-season ban would do significant harm to the future success of Oregon’s football program, which would do harm to the economic climate of Eugene. The city has profited from the Ducks’ success just as the university has, and there’s no reason the University shouldn’t fight to protect that.
Don’t get it twisted: I firmly believe the Ducks violated NCAA rules, and I’m not yet prepared to rule out the idea that they did so intentionally. But even guilty criminals have a right to a full and vigorous defense, and we consider the mitigating circumstances of their crimes when judgment and sentence is passed. This is not to put college football recruiting violations in the same vein as stealing a loaf of bread to feed your family. This is to say that Canzano is throwing the baby out with the bath water.
I don’t think that the NCAA is worth rolling over to. Their enforcement department has proven time and again to be corrupt. This does not clear the Ducks of wrong doing, but it robs them of some of the moral high ground they need to enforce their often silly rules in the name of preserving amateurism, not to mention the way the NCAA screws over student-athletes on a daily basis. Furthermore, there are numerous programs within D1 football that have done significantly dirtier deeds and have gone without punishment. Compared to some other schools and some other scandals, and considering that Lache Seastrunk never played for Oregon, I think the Ducks’ offenses could be better called “attempting to commit recruiting violations” than actual recruiting violations. For comparison, look at the recent allegations against Auburn, Oregon’s BCS title game foe. Furthermore, five guys signing some stuff in exchange for a free tattoo is worth a postseason ban for Ohio State. This is the way the NCAA works, and Oregon should give up and let them have their way with the program?
I don’t understand how Canzano can expect the Ducks to “go hat and hand” to that mess and ask for punishment. Here’s my solution. The NCAA should either accept Oregon’s proposed summary disposition or continue the investigation. If they continue the investigation, I think its only fair that no sanctions be imposed until after the allegations against Auburn are thoroughly investigated and the infractions committee has ruled. That’s only fair.
I still don’t understand why this pisses Canzano off so much. After listening to him on the radio, maybe he just likes being upset.