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posted: 4/7/2014 5:30 AM

Make the NCAA start over? Good plan

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  • Kentucky guard James Young takes a foul shot against Wisconsin during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas.

      Kentucky guard James Young takes a foul shot against Wisconsin during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas.
    Associated Press

  • Kentucky forward Alex Poythress dunks the ball over Wisconsin forward Duje Dukan (13) during the first half of an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas.

      Kentucky forward Alex Poythress dunks the ball over Wisconsin forward Duje Dukan (13) during the first half of an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas.
    Associated Press

  • Kentucky fans cheer before their game against Wisconsin at their NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

      Kentucky fans cheer before their game against Wisconsin at their NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
    Associated Press

  • Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier (13) shoots as Florida forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) defends during the first half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas.

      Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier (13) shoots as Florida forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) defends during the first half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas.
    Associated Press

  • Fans watch during the second half of an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game between Connecticut and Florida Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas.

      Fans watch during the second half of an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game between Connecticut and Florida Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas.
    Associated Press

 
 

NCAA president Mark Emmert conducted a news conference Sunday at the site of the NCAA basketball tournament's Final Four.

Naturally, among the topics was the attempt to unionize football players at Northwestern.

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Media reports quoted Emmert as saying, "To convert to a unionized employee model is to throw away the entire collegiate model for athletics."

So there would be a problem with that?

Emmert continued, "It would blow up everything about the collegiate model of athletics."

Again, there's a problem with that?

If anything needs to be blown up it's the current system of big-time intercollegiate basketball and football.

University presidents have had decades to remodel the model. They did. They made it worse.

A debate is raging over whether so-called student-athletes should be paid. That isn't the answer, but the NCAA keeps making it one by making money so important.

A good solution would be to quit grubbing for every dollar, make fewer demands on athletes and restore priorities to the academic side where they should be.

Instead, tonight's NCAA basketball title game will be played in a football stadium, 80,000 fans will pay outrageous prices to attend and players still won't get any more out of it than if they played in a church gym.

If there's a conscience in this sport, please step forward.

College basketball is like the wild, wilder, wildest West. Just don't get caught and if you do, blush a little and get right back in the saddle.

If people are judged by the company they keep, fans are just as shady as this sport they follow.

Someone will have to explain why alums from Kentucky and Connecticut feel it's so important that their alma maters win at basketball.

(Come to think of it, why am I disappointed that Illinois didn't qualify for the NCAA Tournament?)

Not even a national championship is like a faculty member winning a Nobel Prize. It isn't like being ranked among the nation's premier academic institutions. We're talking basketball.

Wealthy, aging boosters aren't still in school and might have a class with a power forward or a drink with a running back.

So what exactly do Connecticut and Kentucky fans have to cheer about anyway?

For their Final Four victories neither of these major state schools had a single starting player from its own state. So winning those games wasn't any indication that Connecticut or Kentucky produces superior basketball players.

Maybe Connecticut is proud that it survived recent NCAA sanctions for both recruiting and academic improprieties.

UConn fans can't be bursting with pride that according to The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, UConn ranked 16th by a wide margin among this year's Sweet Sixteen schools in Graduation Success Rates.

Hey, everybody, forget that Connecticut's academic indiscretions rendered them ineligible for last year's NCAA Tournament.

As a headline on the Hartford Courant website blared Sunday, "From The Ashes Of Nothing To Play For, Ultimate Redemption Is In Sight."

Well, yes, maybe by college basketball standards a victory tonight will be redemption.

Then there is Kentucky. Oh, is there ever.

Are Wildcats fans proud that head coach John Calipari has made Lexington the basketball capital of the one-and-done student-athlete?

Are they proud that the Wildcats' starting lineup is comprised of five freshmen that likely never will earn a degree?

John Calipari is Kentucky's current architect of basketball. Jim Calhoun is Connecticut's all-time patriarch of basketball.

Each of these Coach Cals should be considered a guy you'd rather lose without than win with. Yet tonight they'll be praised on national television for their accomplishments.

Yep, if any model should be blown up it's this one.

Seriously, Mr. NCAA President, starting fresh wouldn't be a problem at all.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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