By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Fair or not, the NCAA is often portrayed as bumbling, inconsistent and, especially when it comes to student-athletes, draconian.
But Friday’s news should remind us that the NCAA can be merciful, so long as you cooperate, don’t lie, and give them everything they ask for. That’s what Mississippi State did, which is why it got off so lightly for the major recruiting violations that the NCAA uncovered.
“We wanted to go out of our way to let folks know we were very appreciative of the way the university responded, and that’s the way it should be in cases like these,” said Britton Banowsky, the chairman of the NCAA Committee of Infractions.
In a lengthy statement released Friday, MSU president Mark Keenum emphasized that “integrity, ethics and responsibility are core values of Mississippi State,” and that was the driving desire behind the school’s cooperation with the NCAA.
Considering the nature of the violations, the punishment for MSU could have certainly been worse. A booster gave money to a prospect, Will Redmond, and arranged for him to get a car. And an assistant coach at the time, Angelo Mirando, looked the other way.
That’s some heavy stuff. This could have ended really badly for MSU.
As it is, the school got two years’ probation, the football lost four total scholarship, and there were reductions on the recruiting side, among other penalties.
Six of the eight penalties were self-imposed by MSU and accepted by the NCAA.
That’s the kind of proactive approach the folks in Indianapolis take kindly to, and MSU should be applauded for it.
Mirando helped his cause, too, by showing up at a Committee of Infractions hearing when he didn’t have to. In the NCAA’s eyes, that outweighed the fact that Mirando had lied to them not once, but twice about his knowledge of the booster’s activities.
He got a one-year show cause. That’s it. Now, whether he actually finds a job with a BCS school again is another matter and could be one of those natural consequences.
So MSU got off relatively easy. So did Mirando. You know who didn’t?
He lost his freshman year of eligibility, which means he gets no redshirt for sitting out last season.
So Redmond will be a sophomore, but he has to serve a five-game suspension to start the season.
Then he’ll have to try and find a role as MSU nears the meat of its schedule.
I’m not saying he shouldn’t have been punished. Prospects ought to know better than to accept money and gifts and cars, assuming coaches and parents have properly educated them on the topic.
I’m also not saying the punishment was too harsh, but compared to what MSU and Mirando got, it doesn’t jive. I suppose the NCAA’s mercy extends only so far.
Brad Locke (brad.locke@ journalinc.com) covers Mississippi State for the Daily Journal and blogs daily at DJournal.com.