October 6, 2016

NCAA findings still loom over U of L basketball fanbase

By Chris Acree —

Break out your costumes and prepare for an onslaught of pumpkin-scented everything, because it’s finally October. Time for the leaves to start falling and UK fans to emerge from their caves to talk smack once again about basketball and act as if sports didn’t exist beforehand.

Cardinal students and fans have had a lot to cheer about over the last several weeks and look forward to more celebration in the future. But with autumn comes the reemergence of new sports, old questions and looming judgment.

It’s been eight months since the school self-imposed a postseason ban on the men’s basketball team, with more recruiting-based sanctions coming later. While then-president James Ramsey cited undisclosed findings from the school’s internal investigation as a reason for the ban, many questions still remain about what’s come to light during the investigation and who makes the final decision.

Now, the university is suing a blogger and former professor to block an open records request (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) asking for any documents Ramsey had at the time the decision was made.

No one knows anything about when Chuck Smrt’s investigation or the NCAA inquiry will be completed. While representatives of both parties said the findings will be delivered “soon,” the team, students and fans are still facing the prospect of a season clouded by uncertainty, with the potential for another postseason still looming in the distance.

“It definitely makes you a little uncomfortable not knowing exactly what’s going to come,” graduate student Benjamin Jones said. “Speculation is just going to drive me crazy. But I guess we’re just going to wait and see.”

The next step in the process will be the NCAA delivering a notice of allegations to the school, which outlines the results of their investigation. U of L has a period of time to respond to the allegations before the NCAA gives their final ruling.

That means that unfortunately, or perhaps thankfully, our fate is in the hands of NCAA, which has turned botching investigations into an art form. Don’t believe me? Let’s take for example the NCAA’s recent investigation with the University of North Carolina.

The NCAA delivered allegations towards UNC of widespread academic fraud throughout the athletic program, but particularly in the men’s basketball and football teams. After conveniently timed further infractions were discovered by the school, which allowed the Tarheels to play basketball this past season, a new notice of allegations which was delivered this past August, didn’t include the football or men’s basketball programs at all.

This was followed by a response from UNC, which basically said the NCAA didn’t even have the jurisdiction to prosecute academic fraud in the first place.

So perhaps U of L should have just tried to dodge the NCAA, but that time has passed. More importantly, it’s time for the public and the fan base to start getting some answers. The parties involved need to start providing information, officially or unofficially. The players, coaches, students and fans should not have to go into another basketball season wondering if they’ll still be cheering for the Cards in March. If they do that, then just maybe at the beginning of this basketball season we’ll have something to look forward to then just pumpkin-scented aromas.

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