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We deserve better

Sometimes sports can be uplifting and even inspiring.

It’s great to read — and yes, occasionally write — stories about young athletes doing positive things on the field (or court) and off. One of the highlights of my weekend was seeing the picture of South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley consoling Tennessee quarterback Jarett Guarantano following Saturday’s game.

It was a class move and it should be recognized for a wonderful display of sportsmanship too often missing in the trash-talk world of modern sports.

I’d rather see that than a disgruntled player (or former player) expressing themselves in the worst possible manner on social media.

And yet for every uplifting moment there are far more hours of behavior that leaves me filled with nothing but disgust.

Case in point: The NCAA.

If there is a more useless and incompetent organization in the United States, I’d like to know about it.

On Friday, the NCAA released the punishment for North Carolina’s academic fraud violations following a three-year investigation.

The punishment was simple, straightforward, and pure NCAA: Absolutely nothing. That North Carolina provided sham classes (read non-existent) for athletes was never disputed. Their reasoning for no punishment was that non-athletes were also allowed to take the sham classes.

Give North Carolina credit for a legal defense so stupid it was positively genius. Makes me wonder if they had someone dressed up like UNC grad Andy Griffith representing them in court.

“Yes your honor, North Carolina is a fine institution of higher learning but every now and then we like to sneak in a sham class, not just for athletes but for anyone looking to up their GPA.”

Now before anyone starts up with me that I’m only upset because it’s the Tar Heels, let me ask you a question: How would you feel if it was Kentucky, Alabama, Florida, Duke, Ohio State, or Michigan?

Wrong is wrong regardless of school color or conference.

To make matters worse, the report was supposed to have been announced a week earlier but was put off because North Carolina officials asked for a delay because of a fund raising event — an event where the university extolled its own reputation as a fine academic institution of higher learning.

I don’t buy into this idea that it wasn’t an NCAA issue but an accreditation issue.

Don’t be fooled. It’s both.

It’s moronic to say NCAA rules weren’t violated because non-athletes cheated too.

What if PEDs were dispensed across campus to any student? Would it violate NCAA rules because the president of the chess club also got jacked up on steroids?

Granted it would make chess more interesting but that’s beside the point.

What if some crazy billionaire started paying students to come to Chapel Hill, athletes and non-athletes alike? Would a salaried football player and a salaried band member be treated the same by the NCAA?

Is this now the standard?

Louisville got in trouble not too long ago for using strippers (among other things) in recruiting basketball players. Would Rick Pitino have faced NCAA sanctions had non-athletes been recruited to the school from using the same tactic?

I’m going to go out on a limb and make a wild guess that he still would have gotten into trouble.

It’s no wonder that college athletics have gotten so out of control. The idea of a student-athlete at many of the bigger schools (read Power Five conferences) is a joke.

We have football and basketball factories who also happen to offer degree programs for people with no size, skill, or athletic ability.

My dislike for the NCAA is no secret and this action — or more accurately, non-action — points to the reason behind that dislike.

The NCAA itself is a sham.

The very reason the NCAA exists is to promote and enforce fairness in college athletics.

Their most recent decision just opened the door for any number of schools to engage in similar conduct and use the same nonsensical defense.

I can hear it now: “We give all incoming freshmen from [insert location] new cars and cash. We love all of our students, even the ones who are not going to go pro in something other than sports.”

The NCAA has accomplished what I once thought impossible: They have caused me to lose even more respect for them.

The NCAA has no moral authority, courage, or character. They are no more than middlemen in the financial packaging of college athletics. As long as they get their cut of the money they and their television partners are satisfied.

One day we will wake up to the fact that too many of these governing bodies for “amateur” athletics are only interested in money.

The well being of the kids is the least important item on their agenda.

We, as parents, students, athletes, and fans, should expect better.

We should demand better.

We deserve better.