Guilty Until Proven Innocent: The New American Standard of Judgment

Timothy SaundersCorrespondent IFebruary 24, 2010

BROOKLYN, MI - JUNE 18:  David Brandon CEO of Dominos Pizza announces their sponsorship with Michael Waltrip Racing prior to the start of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Race on June 18, 2006 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

Say what you want about our legal system, but it at least makes sense. If a charge is brought upon someone, the burden of proof is on the accuser, not the defendant. I don't know about all of you, but I for one tend to look at things like this. Which is why I find the NCAA to be so frustrating.

The NCAA is not like the legal system, actually they work in exactly the opposite way. When a charge is brought, it is up to the accused to prove their innocence, which seems backwards to me, the whole process is about as American as quartering troops, and taxation without representation. 

The NCAA announced today that it found the University of Michigan in violation of five NCAA regulations. Athletic Director David Brandon had this to say:

“You can all draw your own conclusions, (but) I think what you’ll find is that there are not situations that jump out at you where there was anybody that was not trying to do their job, that was purposefully, maliciously either falsifying documents or misrepresenting the facts. My read of the situation is we had a breakdown internally in communication in some of our policies and procedures that were not followed as carefully as they should be and that led us to where we are today more than any one individual either being guilty of incompetence or any malicious behavior.”

Essentially, the NCAA found that Michigan failed to fill out practice logs and when you trace it back, this error lies with the quality control office, as reports:

"Brandon said 'a lack of clarity around whether time spent in stretching and warm-up activities were countable minutes is one reason for the NCAA findings.' Still, he said the allegations are serious. 'We don’t trivialize anything,' he said. 'We don’t like being here today, we don’t like getting notice of allegations from the NCAA in any form, in any way, and we’re going to fix it.' According to the notice, Michigan’s compliance department expressed concern 'about the duties and activities' of the program’s five quality-control assistants 'shortly after' Rodriguez was hired. Athletic administrators with responsibilities to the football program failed to provide the necessary information, and that 'collective failure partly resulted in the violations.'"...

He also said Michigan could be subject to the NCAA's repeat violator rule, and therefore more severe penalties, because these allegations occurred within five years of sanctions against its basketball program, but hopes that isn't the case. 'We clearly made mistakes,' Brandon said. 'And we have already taken action to prevent any of those mistakes from being repeated.'"

Basically, the transition between the Carr era and the Rodriguez era had its fair share of fumbles (pardon the pun) and mishandlings. The actual violations themselves, a bunch of mishandled information and 20 minutes of extra practice aren't really anything to lose sleep over.

Although, if there is anything to lose sleep over, it's that it seems as though the NCAA is only out to quench the mainstream media's blood lust for major programs; no doubt Rosenberg will write a peice about his own "vindication". You can clearly see it in the way they went after Alabama last year. writes:

"The NCAA said 201 athletes in 16 sports obtained 'impermissible benefits' by using their scholarships to obtain free textbooks for other students. Alabama identified 22 athletes, including seven football players, as 'intentional wrongdoers' who knew they were receiving improper benefits... As a result, the NCAA ruled the football team must vacate any wins in which any of those seven players took part during 2005-07. Alabama said that pending a successful appeal, the decision would cost the program 21 wins, including the 2005 Cotton Bowl victory over Texas Tech and an upset of Florida earlier that season."

Vacating 21 wins because some students got free textbooks? Really? The AD considered appealing the decision, and for the life of me I cannot figure out why they didn't.

"A small number of athletes took advantage of the program to obtain textbooks for their friends, textbooks that had to be returned or paid for at the end of the semester... It’s important to note that no coach or staff member was involved in the violation, no sport gained a competitive advantage and not one athlete pocketed $1." - Alabama President Robert Witt

Now, I'm not saying that this should go unpunished, as that is clearly stealing, but it should be handled by the university, not the NCAA. Unfortunately, this is among quite a few incidents where the NCAA was overzealous, and I'm not sure it will stop until Congress decides to overstep its bounds again and declare this process unconstitutional.

I don't know about you, but I'm really glad our new AD is friends with the King.