The news week of Nov. 15-19 started slow, with follow-ups on the Enes Kanter eligibility decision leading the way. The pace picked up in late week with an unusual issue involving Saturday’s Illinois-Northwestern football game and discussions about athlete violence and fallout from an infractions case.
Balanced reaction to Kanter: Media didn’t gravitate one way or the other in reacting to the NCAA’s decision that Kentucky’s Enes Kanter’s competitive experience in Turkey rendered him a professional and therefore permanently ineligible for competition in Division I (Kentucky has indicated it will appeal the decision).
Here’s a sampler of post-decision commentary:
Kanter fallout at Kentucky, Kansas’ waiting game with Selby and more (Seth Davis, SI.com)
Blue about a big man (David Roth, Wall Street Journal)
Maybe the NCAA got it right (Darrell Cartwright, Scout.com)
Explain this: Millionaire Parker can play but Kanter can’t? (Gregg Doyel, CBSSports.com)
The Davis piece contained an important point that many observers miss: “Rip the NCAA all you want − just don’t blame the NCAA. What I mean is that too often people rail against ‘the NCAA’ without specifying who they are talking about. This decision came from the staff at the NCAA’s headquarters in Indianapolis, but the rule, like all legislation, was proposed and passed by the member schools.”
Davis speaks the truth here. He goes on to lament that the enforcement of the rule (assuming it stands) makes it less likely that elite international players will compete in Division I basketball.
Later in the column, Davis fielded a question about why initial-eligibility certification seems to take so long. “I am also miffed that the season is starting this weekend without a verdict,” Davis said. “I realize the NCAA processes hundreds, if not thousands, of eligibility requests each year, but I think there needs to be more accountability to get these matters settled before the first game.”
Everybody can agree with Davis’ sentiment about timeliness, but the real world may get in the way in complicated cases. Those who are interested in this topic should read Michelle Brutlag Hosick’s description of NCAA Eligibility Center process on NCAA.org. “If (certification is) taking a long time,” Eligibility Center President Todd Leydon told Hosick, “there’s usually a reason for it …. (W)e need to be thorough and fair.”
Cornell pins conventional wisdom: The Nov. 14 New York Times contained a great article from Bill Pennington (one of the most thoughtful sportswriters around) about the emergence of Cornell as a wrestling power.
The Big Red enters the season as the No. 1 team in the nation, which is virtually unheard of for Ivy League and East Coast wrestling programs.
The entire article about how Rob Koll built the program is fascinating, but one especially interesting part was Koll’s take on how Cornell, as an Ivy League member, functions at such a high level without giving athletically-related financial aid.
Here’s the excerpt: “We have a tighter group of guys because there’s no resentment over who is getting a full ride and who isn’t,” said Koll, whose athletes can qualify for need-based financial aid, which can be significant. (Three of his 10 starters are paying the entire cost to attend Cornell, which is more than $50,000 annually.) Scholarships can also make the coach-athlete connection feel more like an owner-athlete relationship. That’s when guys start thinking of their sport as a job.”
Emmert insight: More stories are describing what Mark Emmert might seek to accomplish as NCAA president. Inside Higher Education’s Doug Ledderman conducted an assessment after Emmert’s appearance at Thursday’s Association for the Study of Higher Education meeting in Indianapolis. Earlier in the week, the Baton Rouge Advocate posted a question-and-answer session.
The confines of Wrigley Field: The week’s oddest story involved the configuration of the field for Saturday’s Northwestern-Illinois football game at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. As the field was laid out in the venerable baseball stadium early in the week, the east endline was so close to the right-field wall that the goal post came almost straight up from the barrier.
The Big Ten Conference dealt with the issue by having all offense point in one direction.
Many fans with an interest in playing rules might not be aware that rules for NCAA sports are available for viewing at no charge on NCAAPublications.com. Here’s the link to reach the football rules book, which contains the relevant field specifications on page FR19 and the actual rule on page FR24.
Concerns expressed about athlete violence: Katherine Redmond, who advocates against violence by athletes, met Wednesday with NCAA President Emmert and other officials.
Here are some recaps:
Bowl qualification quandary: As the college football regular season wound down, the possibility emerged that there might not be enough teams with .500 records or better to fill the 35 certified postseason bowl games in Division I’s Football Bowl Subdivision. The problem was discussed early in the season, but circumstances became more urgent over this week as it became apparent that the number of qualifiers is going to be tight.