College Basketball: How Much Are NCAA Sanctions Affecting Baylor and Tennessee?

Mark AlewineContributor IOctober 22, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 25:  Head coach Scott Drew of the Baylor Bears reacts against the Kentucky Wildcats during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball South Regional Final at the Georgia Dome on March 25, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

NCAA penalties are supposed to be just that. Penalties. Consequences for an institution’s lack of reverence for the sacred rules as written and enforced by college sports’ Big Brother.

But in the brave new world of “amateur” sports (pun totally intended), the aforementioned punishments seem to be having little to no effect for a couple of up-and-coming basketball programs.

According to ESPN’s Dave Telep, Baylor, who was busted in April for impermissible phone calls and text messages, has followed up its top-five recruiting class a year ago by adding 26th ranked Ishmail Wainright. The 6'6" small forward will join fellow commit Johnathan Motley as coach Scott Drew makes a push to add Isaac Hamilton, Stevie Clark and Dominic Woodson (who are all ranked in the ESPN100).

Along with Baylor, second-year coach Cuonzo Martin made Tennessee fans forget all about Bruce Pearl and a certain bar-b-que with his second major recruiting splash in as many years. Thirty-sixth ranked Robert Hubbs, the ninth best shooting guard in the nation, spurned his hometown Memphis Tigers for a chance to play with Martin and the Vols.

Both schools appeased the NCAA by enforcing self-imposed penalties that would have likely been similar to what they would have faced otherwise, but their success flies in the face of the NCAA’s enforcement goals. Rather than endure their penance in sanctions purgatory, Tennessee and Baylor seem to be thriving.

Such a stark contradiction in logic begs the question, “How much do sanctions really matter?”