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With America's elite college football teams closing in on the playoffs to determine a national champion and a new race to basketball's March Madness about to begin, the question might be who is in charge of keeping the huge fortune the two events produce out of the hands of cheaters?

For more than three quarters of a century, the National Collegiate Athletic Association has ruled major college sports with an iron fist, clamping down on any hint of scandal that might taint the association and its member schools ... and damage the money flow.

At times, the NCAA's legendary gumshoe committee has seemed to have taken its duty to preserve purity to the point of absurdity, penalizing its members for trivial infractions of its Byzantine book of rules. You can't give a recruit a baseball cap or your best player is suspended for appearing fully clothed on a calendar that was being sold for charity by a sorority (which actually occurred).

Schools that were the most successful in pursuit of records and the revenue they produce were somehow less likely to be sanctioned. While there has been no solid proof to back up allegations of favoritism, there obviously is plenty of circumstantial evidence. And the NCAA's decision not to pursue a horrendous breach of academic propriety by the University of North Carolina almost puts a rubber stamp of authenticity to the claims.

By not doing so, any credibility the governing body has left may have been lost forever. If you have been unaware, UNC had given academic credit to favored groups for what it at one time admitted was a phony course. While some of those who took the nonexistent course or courses weren't athletes, at least 50 percent to 60 percent were, including football and basketball stars.

The excuse the NCAA gave with a straight face was that since there were non-athletes also benefiting, discipline was not an alternative (or some such inane jibber jabber) and that since the school told the NCAA that it was an accredited course telling a national accreditation committee that it wasn't, the NCAA had no jurisdiction. Meanwhile the accreditation folks reportedly have reopened their investigation.

By the way, UNC is again listed in preseason basketball polls as expected to be one of the nation's top 10 programs with a head start on another March triumph...Ca-ching!

Is Walter Byers--the Torquemada who built the NCAA and often used a sledgehammer to slap a wrist--whirring in his grave? Probably.

Editorial on 11/13/2017

Print Headline: The NCAA money machine

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