The difference between honor/purity and dishonor/impurity oftentimes is the difference between what comes to light and what doesn’t, what is uncovered and what isn’t, what is confessed and what is denied.
BYU fessed up about what happened in the Nick Emery case, it self-reported, and the NCAA punished it for being forthcoming, jumping at the chance to find victory in the mistakes made by a player, and a booster or two, not so much a coach or an entire program. But the appeal for the vacating of 47 wins in which Emery played, in the midst of taking benefits from a friend/booster, amid a few other slaps on account of other indiscretions, was swatted away by the NCAA, keeping in place the punishments earlier thrown down.
Whether those penalties are just or unjust — the school certainly considers them the latter, based on the statement its administrators made on Wednesday in response to the judgment — is up to individuals to decide for themselves.
There is no denying that some wrongdoing took place with Emery. He shouldn’t be taking impermissible bennies. Boosters shouldn’t be hanging out in the locker room.
But it all was relatively mild compared to some of the cheating that goes unknown and unconfessed and unpunished at schools all around college basketball. How do I know that? I’ve talked to enough people around the game who are in the know to come to that conclusion. Would any of it hold up in court? Probably not. And that’s why, when the NCAA gets a case where a perpetrator is willing to come clean, it brings down the thunder and shakes its fist.
There presently are a whole lot of people in and around college basketball who are laughing out loud at the NCAA for its actions taken against BYU, a program that likely is purer than most, but that now has been found to be impure. Why? Again, because it told the truth when investigators came calling.
Emery is not to be excused. But in the future, players and programs would be wise to keep their big bazoos shut when questions are asked, rather than being honorable, and thus found to be dishonorable.
BYU claims this punishment by the NCAA sets a new precedent, one in which a school is being harshly punished for something of which it and its program and its coaches had no knowledge.
When they found out, they … you know what.
“The way you deal with the NCAA is when you become aware of a problem, you deal with it, you call immediately,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said months ago.
Well. The message here from the NCAA is the opposite of what it needs to be — that those who cooperate and admit to any indiscretion will suffer for that cooperation and admission. Meanwhile, aggressive cheaters who are making a mockery of amateurism when it comes to recruiting, handing out thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars to to high school players and their representatives who they aim to lure in, all around the country are going on, doing their business, same as it ever was, unimpeded and unpunished.
When North Carolina had its academics scandal in its hoops program, the school admitted to almost nothing, denying all wrongdoing, and it skated with no punishment.
Bottom line: If you duck and cover, you win. If you tell the truth, you get crushed.
BYU’s case is like the motorist who’s last in a line of traffic on his way to work, a line that is filled with drivers who are accelerating down the freeway at 85 mph, and the last sap is the one who gets pulled over, while the others motor on. Except in this case, the other motorists are driving stolen cars.
Did the guy who got pulled over do something wrong? He did. No excusing that. He was speeding. Did he commit grand theft auto, like others have and get away with it? No.
BYU should have been aware of what was going on with Nick Emery. It, apparently, should not have admitted it.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.