The NCAA has a clear bias in favor of the ACC. If they did not have such a bias, Duke and UNC would be playing the early rounds outside the state of North Carolina rather than somewhere in the state.
It broke in the last week that former Duke forward Lance Davis may have been the recipient of improper benefits during the 2009-10 season at Duke. If you remember, that is when Duke won the NCAA championship in men's basketball.
Why is this important? Because it's Duke basketball and well, that's that. They have until the end of 2013 to issue Duke a notice regarding an investigation. The News Observer states what we do know right now:
According to the lawsuit filed by Manhattan jeweler Rafaello & Co. against Thomas, the former Duke player made a $30,000 down payment on five pieces of diamond jewelry worth $97,300 on Dec. 19, 2009. That gives the NCAA until Dec. 19, 2013 to notify Duke of any potential violations.No co-signer?!? How can that be? Was David the recipient of an improper benefit? There is no way that the son of a single mother would be able to make a $30,000 down payment! Where did the money come from?
In addition to the truncated timeline, the NCAA faces other hurdles in gathering information, Infante said. Since Thomas is no longer under the NCAA’s purview, he is not required to talk to the organization and also cannot be forced to talk. And since the NCAA does not have subpoena power, Rafaello & Co. or any other involved party cannot be made to talk either.[...]
Thomas, then in the middle of his senior year, signed a purchase agreement stating that he would pay the remaining $67,300 balance on the jewelry in 15 days. He did not have a co-signer on the purchase agreement, Bowers said.
NCAA bylaw 16.01.3 states that a benefit must be available to any of the institution’s students, their relatives, and friends determined on a basis unrelated to athletic ability for it to be permissible. Extra benefits that are impermissible come in a variety of sizes and some could be as small as a free ride for an athlete on a rainy day from a driver who wouldn’t offer one to a student they did not recognize.
The lawsuit against Thomas potentially involves a much larger benefit.A much larger benefit indeed.
Dana O'Neil offered some thoughts of her own over at ESPN. She covers the issue at hand in two single paragraphs alone.
The first and most obvious question for NCAA investigators: Where did a college senior, the son of a single mother who is a manager at a Ford plant in New Jersey, according to Duke's website, come up with that sort of cash to drop on something as frivolous as jewelry?That final paragraph rings true. The NCAA has gone after their sacred cows, of course. Kentucky was sanctioned in the late 1980s. If UK was not ignored, neither can Duke or UNC be ignored. To ignore them would just set a precedent.
The second and more complicated question: Did Rafaello & Co., a jeweler with a website that touts its client list of rappers and pro athletes, extend an opportunity to Thomas to pay less than a third of the purchase in advance because of who he is? Because, in other words, he played for Duke? Part of Ohio State's football troubles, remember, stemmed from Terrelle Pryor and others receiving discounts from a tattoo parlor.[...]
The NCAA, as of now, has failed to penalize North Carolina basketball in the university's recent academic scandal, which has created a firestorm across the country. The process is far from over in Chapel Hill, but there are more than a few people who are convinced the NCAA will never go after its sacred cows.
Dana O'Neil is not alone in asking questions. Matt Norlander at CBS Sports is asking them as well.
Saying the folks at Duke had no knowledge would not cut it either because of what happened at Memphis and Massachusetts. Fans at other schools will not let this controversy go away. They simply will not.
While the UNC academic scandal will not go away anytime soon, they have another potential scandal involving the mother of Tyler Hansbrough.