More oversight an answer to NCAA issues?

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Guess Eric Bledsoe’s one of the (un)lucky ones. Turns out a fraction of athletes approved by the NCAA’s eligibility center actually have new information surface that causes a review.

Question is, why didn’t the NCAA do an extensive review in the first place?

The Lexington Herald-Leader posed that very question to the NCAA, and received this answer from spokesman Chuck Wynne: We didn’t have time to look at anything other than the bare minimum. From the story:

In explaining the fairness in a player being judged eligible and subsequently ruled ineligible, Wynne noted that the normal preliminary eligibility review can be a cursory look at the two components that determine eligibility: the grade-point average in 16 core courses and the college entrance exam score.

“No red flags and you’re off to the next transcript,” Wynne said.

So why is the NCAA reportedly investigating Bledsoe now? New information popped up, which happens to “hundreds” of applicants each year. In the meantime, it’s hard to say how any of the “new” will affect the school. Waiting for the review’s results will take time. (Kentucky coach John Calipari isn’t worried. He told Andy Katz that “there’s nothing there.”)

Wynne then went onto to talk about “fairness” in regards to the NCAA’s review process, which did irk the guys at A Sea of Blue, mostly because it came off as trying to sound balanced, but rang hollow.

Fairness is important, of course, but fairness does not require that you put on blinders and pick things at random.  If the NCAA wants to be taken seriously, they should consider all factors when determining the scope of the review they are doing.  Am I suggesting UK’s recruits should be more closely looked at?  Well, maybe yes and maybe no — UK has been clean of major violations for a long time now.  But should it consider the high profile of the recruit, and the high profile of UK?  Sure it should. That isn’t unfair — it’s basic common sense.

So where does that leave us? More reviews of recruit eligibility and more oversight of schools? Probably. This post from the Bylaw Blog touches on all the NCAA foul-ups in the news recently – USC, UConn, Kentucky, etc – and concluded that’s exactly where things should be headed. Coaches, schools and others will continue to try and find loopholes. And there aren’t enough eyes watching to stop them all.

So the current rash of violations can be explained as a period where the coaches have not come up with the next generation of cheating while compliance and enforcement have caught up. The challenge now is for compliance officers and the NCAA to not squander this advantage and try to get ahead of the coaches in terms of monitoring.

It makes me think of drug testing in professional sports. They can detect certain kinds of performance enhancers, but not all. And they’ll never be able to detect the ones they don’t know about.

Think you’re one step ahead of any cheaters? Probably not. You’re probably a step behind.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.