Check Down’s very own Alby showed me an article today with a comment that read “time to suspend every athlete ever.” I had no idea what he meant at first. Steroids, maybe? No…far worse.
In a headline that could have very easily been plagiarized from The Onion, Five Richmond baseball players, I kid you not, have been suspended by the NCAA for playing fantasy football. Apparently two of the players, pitcher Keenan Bartlett and infielder Kurtis Brown, are studs, too. Bartlett is a legitimate MLB prospect while Brown was a first team All-Atlantic-10 selection last year. And it’s not like this is a slap on the wrist: This could be an indefinite suspension.
Here’s the complete statement from the University of Richmond, courtesy of CBS Sports:
“The University of Richmond athletics department has reported NCAA secondary violations impacting the eligibility of five student-athletes on the baseball team. In full cooperation with the NCAA, the athletic department fully investigated and reported the violations, which the NCAA has recently determined were secondary in nature.
As a result of these violations, these five student-athletes will be ineligible for competition until the NCAA’s reinstatement process has been completed.
The University of Richmond is committed to complying with all NCAA rules and regulations. Under NCAA rules, the University of Richmond is obligated to monitor and self-report violations as they occur and all student-athletes and staff handled this situation with integrity, were completely forthcoming and cooperative with the investigation. The athletics department will not make any further comments about this matter.”
In fairness to the NCAA, I understand why they need to take a harsh stance on more serious forms of gambling, for the same reason why insider trading is punished so severely on Wall Street. Simply put, you can’t risk having a game’s participants influencing a result. That much is obvious. I’m even willing to acknowledge that it’s within the NCAA’s right to ensure that college athletes don’t bet on other collegiate events. Again, it all comes down to accessible information. A Division I basketball player might be aware of how his school’s football team may be game-planning for a certain team, or know that a friend of his that is particularly important to the football team won’t be playing. There’s even the tiny chance that fellow collegiate athletes could collude with each other. None of this still makes it right for five Richmond baseball players to be suspended for playing fantasy football, but I understand why the NCAA needs to have some strict measures as to gambling.
But here’s the hypocrisy:
That screenshot was taken directly from the NCAA’s website. As I’m sure you’re aware, we’re now officially in the month of March, and the NCAA is not only heavily promoting, but is going to directly benefit from–and this is not an exaggeration–the largest gambling event of the year. I mean, everyone and their mother makes a bracket. I’ve been throwing $10 into March Madness pools since before I could even walk. Random people have likely asked you for advice as to which 14 seed is going to pull an upset. One of your co-workers, who couldn’t tell you who Coach K was if you held a gun to their head, has probably even won over a grand from your office bracket challenge.
The NCAA wants to take a harsh stance on gambling? That’s like North Korea telling another country they need to pay more attention to human rights. Not only that, but if the NCAA is truly serious about maintaining their ridiculous standards, why won’t they punish all fantasy football-playing criminals? I’ll tell you why: They would probably have to suspend every other male collegiate athlete! Granted, to be somewhat fair again to the NCAA, it seems like someone ratted out these Richmond players. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, someone within Richmond self-reported the “violations” to the NCAA. Looks like we’ve found the next Watergate scandal everybody!
Nonetheless, by choosing to punish these athletes for paying money to play in an insignificant fantasy football league, the unbelievably hypocritical, corrupt, and “non-profit seeking” NCAA has proven yet again that they are a shameful organization.