Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Eight Minutes

If you went to work for eight minutes and then clocked out, your boss wouldn't pay you for a full days' work. If you went to class for eight minutes and then left, your teachers wouldn't say you completed a full semester. If you spent eight minutes on the golf course, you wouldn't say you completed a full round. So why does the NCAA get to say that eight minutes counts as a full season?

This is the question that Old Dominion's Donte Hill has surely been asking himself for days. Hill's request for a fifth year was denied by the NCAA rules committee, due to the eight minutes that Hill played in a closed scrimmage back in 2010 while still a member of the Clemson Tigers. Shortly after the scrimmage, Hill made the decision to transfer from Clemson to Old Dominion, and sat out the remainder of the 2010 season, in accordance with the NCAA's rules for transferring athletes (which I also think is a sham rule, but that's not what this article is about). Hill, along with the ODU coaching staff assumed that everything was fine and that he was following the rules. No one imagined that his participation in the aforementioned scrimmage would be an issue. It wasn't participation in a game, after all, it was just a closed scrimmage. What possible effect could that have?

Well, according to the rules committee, any participation during a season counts as a full season. Hill's participation in that scrimmage meant that he played in the 2010 season, giving him one less season of eligibility than he thought he had. Was it the responsibility of the coaching staff to look into the NCAA's complex and outdated rule book to make sure that everything was kosher? Yeah, probably. It was probably Hill's responsibility to double check on things too. That being said, in no other walk of life does eight minutes constitute full participation, why on Earth is collegiate athletics any different? What gives the NCAA the right to end a player's season (and in this case, career) over eight minutes in something that had quite literally zero effect on the regular or post-season?

In my eyes, this is but one in a long line of instances of the NCAA overstepping it's bounds and making terrible decisions that have long-term detrimental effects on the lives of young adults. This past college football season, the NCAA rules committee handed down what were the stiffest penalties I have ever seen (I was not yet alive for the decision to hand down the "death penalty" to the SMU program) to the Penn State University football program in the wake of the heinous acts committed by Jerry Sandusky and in some respects allowed to by Joe Paterno. While any sane individual can acknowledge that the university itself needed to be punished for the acts of it's employees, I feel that the case was entirely a legal matter. It had no bearing on anything athletic and was not an issues that the NCAA needed to get involved with. Their decision to cut scholarships, ban from post-season play, and heavily fine the football program has had serious negative consequences on countless lives that had absolutely zero to do with the situation. Now, the NCAA has made another decision that has altered the life, if only temporarily, of yet another young adult. All over a measly eight minutes.