Saturday, August 28, 2004

I am sick and tired of this notion that the NCAA "dropped by ball" by not reinstating Mike Williams. I am sick and tired of this notion that the NCAA "passed up an opportunity to help the student-athlete." How in the hell would reinstating him help the student-athlete? It would have made a mockery of the whole concept of the student-athlete; the rules prohibiting signing with an agent are clear, and the rules prohibiting taking money from an agent to fund your football training are also clear. College sports are supposed to be amateur, remember?

The NCAA can't afford to allow a situation where college players can sign agents, collect and spend money from agents, and then return to college play as though nothing significant has happened. And this doesn't even address the fact that Williams agreed to a three-year deal with Nike and made money from trading-card deals. (I gleaned these last two facts from a column I agree with found here.)

I guess it helps the "student-athlete" to be a professional, and with that narrow definition I guess the NCAA did turn down a chance to help the student-athlete. But reinstating a player that had collected money for his football playing would make a total mockery of the system, and would essentially be corrupt.

Williams knew the risks he was taking. He knew the NFL would challenge the court decision that made Maurice Clarett eligible, and he knew that if the NFL was victorious in challenge his college eligibility would be at risk. And he knew the risks of signing with an agent, accepting his money, and making deals. Had he not signed with an agent, I believe he would be in uniform today. But he did, and he's not, and why the NCAA should be expected to toss out sensible rules to bail out someone who clearly preferred to no longer be a student-athlete is beyond me.

The dismissal of his craven reinstatement request should be greeted by national celebration. The fact that everyone is pretending that this is harmful demonstrates just how corrupt our thinking on this issue has become. Williams made choices, and he hurt himself (maybe) and hurt his team (definitely). Deal.

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