Archive for Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Woodling: Hearing a time to grovel

August 15, 2006

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Earl Huyser approached me Sunday morning and queried: "What do you think is going to happen in Baltimore today?"

A professor emeritus of chemistry, Huyser was like countless other Kansas University folks wondering what would occur when KU officials met with the NCAA infractions committee that day.

So I told Huyser exactly what I thought would happen.

"Nothing," I replied.

And that is exactly what happened. KU officials met for nearly eight hours with the committee and emerged mum with the exception of a three-paragraph statement from Chancellor Robert Hemenway.

In retrospect, Hemenway could have been even more terse, limiting his canned remarks to this sentence: "We reaffirmed to the committee our absolute commitment to NCAA rules compliance."

In essence, KU spent thousands of dollars on airfare, hotels and per diem in order to beg forgiveness from the panel of judges who will announce the school's fate about six weeks from now. The NCAA doesn't want to hear excuses. The NCAA wants to hear contrition, heavy on the sincerity.

Some people refer to these sentencing hearings with the NCAA infractions committee as groveling sessions. Grovel may be too harsh a word, but it can't hurt to be unctuous. We're really and truly sorry and we promise to do better, etc., etc.

Among the KU contingent were men's basketball coach Bill Self and women's basketball boss Bonnie Henrickson. Since neither coach was implicated in any of the wrongdoing, we must assume they were in Baltimore for one reason - to assure the committee they were running squeaky- clean programs.

More important, however, was the presence of football coach Mark Mangino, whose program was accused of academic fraud. Mangino never was linked with the fraudulence, but the buck stops at the top, and surely Mangino was called upon to stress the steps he has taken to prevent a recurrence of violations.

In the NCAA, you are not innocent until proven guilty. How can you be innocent if you turn yourself in? Kansas was guilty on several counts, and now it is up to the NCAA panel of judges to determine if KU's self-imposed penalties fit the crimes.

Over the years, it seems to me the NCAA has become more lenient. For instance, in today's climate, I doubt if the NCAA would do what it did to KU men's basketball in the late '80s when it declared the Jayhawks the first - and still only - team unable to defend the national championship.

Nevertheless, I have a feeling the NCAA won't rubber-stamp KU's self-imposed probation and its minimal reduction of scholarships. I wouldn't be surprised if the charge of lack of institutional control - the NCAA's version of a felony - resulted in a five-year probation with heavy monetary sanctions.

Moreover, in the case of the academic fraud, I expect another shoe to drop in the form of expanded recruiting restrictions and perhaps even game suspensions for Mangino.

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