The college basketball season, as it turns out, is a finite period of time. It starts in November and ends the first week of April. That’s when it is. Every year.
The NCAA does not quite seem to understand that in the case of North Carolina’s indefinitely suspended pair of guards, P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald. The NCAA is treating the situation as, say, one would treat cleaning the garage – I’ll get to it when I get to it.
Never mind that all of the suspected transgressions – Hairston’s rental car mess and McDonald’s unlicensed affiliation with a company that makes mouth guards – occurred during the summer. The NCAA still is making up its mind whether Hairston and McDonald are eligible.
(Thanksgiving is next week. Thought it would be a good time to mention that.)
Whether the NCAA’s Ministry of Truth actually decides if the two are eligible – how dare a student-athelete profit off his own likeness! – is irrelevant. The decision needs to come as soon as possible because it should have been decided, at the latest, three weeks ago, like UNC coach Roy Williams thought it would be.
But don’t be too hard on the NCAA. North Carolina’s cease-and-desist letter to the mouth guard company as well as the third of Hairston’s traffic incidents happened in July. Which, to be fair, gave the NCAA almost four months to decide if its rules were broken.
Who can make decisions that fast? What is this, Jeopardy?
It’s long past the point where this is unfair to North Carolina. The Tar Heels could free fall from the top 25 after a subpar win against Holy Cross and a home loss to Belmont, for which Hairston and McDonald were not available. Belmont is among the top shelf of true mid-major programs, but with Hairston and McDonald, it’s hard to see North Carolina losing at home to the Bruins.
The NCAA needs to decide either: A. Hairston and/or McDonald broke the rules and will be forced to miss the season, thus allowing North Carolina to move on and the players, if they so choose, to begin preparations for the NBA Draft; B. The players will be suspended for a certain number of games, which allows the Tar Heels to bunker down for a period of time; or C. They can come back right now while basketball is actually being played.
The viability of the rules, which apparently protect the moral fiber of the United States by preventing athletes with quantifiable skills from capitalizing on them, already is beyond argument.
Hairston is the more serious of the two cases, and while guilty of atrocious judgment, he already is through with the courts. There’s nothing more on which to wait.
The rental cars might fall under the dreaded “impermissible benefits,” as murky a rule as the NCAA has, but would it kill the NCAA to actually enforce its arbitrary laws? But, again, all of this falls under the NCAA’s jurisdiction.
Policy is policy, and in the words of noted philosopher Eric Cartman, “I don’t make up the rules. I just think them up and write them down.”