Tuesday, September 19, 2006

MEA CULPA ON RAY RAY

Since I seem to be going through the Week of Atonement here at C&F, I have to go back to a previous post in which I let the NCAA have it pretty hard for allowing extra assistance to Ray Ray McElrathbey.

I got a particularly pointed response from Josh Centor over at the NCAA, who wrote (in part) this:
It seems to me that he is doing the right thing, and this waiver allows him to be a student-athlete and take care of his brother at the same time. I am confident our organization would have had the same response for any student-athlete in a similar situation.

To be clear, I'm not buckling under because of a comment from the NCAA. But it added to some thinking I've already been doing since I made the post.

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the original post had to do with my suspicion of a rival university. But I think in an attempt to get a dig in at Clemson in a tongue-in-cheek way, I might have gone too far.

I should have made it clearer that I absolutely have no problem with the non-monetary forms of extra benefits that McElrathbey and his brother receive. I'm still nervous about the cash assistance, and I think there ought to be some strings attached. And, since I don't have access to agreements between Clemson and the NCAA, there might be some sort of oversight. If there isn't, this does open the door for potential violations -- boosters or agents giving $5,000 in "charitable contributions," then another $1,000 for each tackle, etc.

But it's obvious that wasn't the NCAA's intention, and saying Myles Brand was "allowing payola" crossed the line. Of the many legitimate critcisms that could be leveled at the NCAA, that wasn't one of them.

I also should have emphasized that I was in no way criticizing McElrathbey. Good Lord, the young man is a saint. I have two younger brothers that fortunately have a much better home life -- but I would like to think I'd do the same if they didn't.

However, my other, more sweeping comment -- that "there are probably other students across the country in a similar situation whose schools don't give a rip about them because they don't play football" -- still stands. I have no reason to doubt that the NCAA "would have had the same response for any student-athlete in a similar situation." But that wasn't the point I was trying to make.

I was simply wondering whether Clemson -- or South Carolina, or any other school, for that matter -- would have cared as much about this if McElrathbey wasn't a cornerback. Would anyone in the larger world have cared as much if McElrathbey wasn't a cornerback? I'm not sure.

That comment wasn't pointed at the NCAA. It wasn't even really pointed at Clemson. It was pointed at society.

Self included.

Unfortunately, I got too cute by half, thinking about how to work in a jab at the NCAA's (still-ridiculous) crackdown on Native American mascots and a picture of Spitzer. I made a mistake: I engaged my blog before I engaged my brain.

Hopefully, that's the last apology I'll have to make. At least until Ohio State loses.

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