By Mark Nagi

The NCAA is investigating alleged rules violations that took place during the Jeremy Pruitt era.

At least I think that’s what they are doing.

Because really… can we be sure about any of their activities these days?

Tennessee fired Pruitt 16 months ago, yet the NCAA continues to drag its feet. Perhaps learning a lesson from the Bruce Pearl debacle of 2010-2011, the Vols announced during the 2021 season that they would not self-impose a bowl ban.

These days, no one fears the judicial arm of the NCAA.

And why would they?

Heck, the Kansas men’s basketball program was part of an FBI crackdown and received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA in 2019, yet nothing has happened in terms of announced penalties.

Something that did happen? Kansas just won the national championship.

Cheating pays off, kids…

“Who is in charge is the same group that’s always been in charge. And that’s the schools,” NCAA president Mark Emmert told reporters a few weeks ago. “There’s an enormous amount of misunderstanding about what the NCAA is. People speak of the NCAA as if it’s some monolithic entity. It’s not. It’s 1,100 schools that come together and make decisions in a collaborative, representative democracy. Those schools always have been in charge and those schools will be in charge moving forward.”

Emmert has made millions of dollars passing the buck (get it?) for more than a decade. He is slated to retire in June of 2023. His replacement isn’t known yet, but you can be sure the person that takes over will be just as ineffective.

The biggest issue facing the NCAA these days is NIL. Name, Image and Likeness.

For decades, the NCAA worked tirelessly to keep teenagers from bettering themselves financially due to their hard work and God-given talents. It finally caught up to them. When the Supreme Court opened the door for student-athletes to receive more than the basics, the NCAA had no contingency policy.

And that turned NIL into the wild, wild west.

Make no mistake. Student-athletes have received cash and other inducements since the first time one of them put on a jersey for the glory of old State U. But now it is much more public, and the NCAA has done absolutely nothing to regulate the practice.

“It is unfortunately a circumstance where we’ve got now 30-plus different states with different laws,” Emmert said. “We need to work with Congress to create one federal landscape. We’ve had a variety of legal actions in the courts with all of that… We have got to have Congress find a single legal model by which NIL and other relationships with student-athletes can be regulated. That’s going to be a big task.”

Yeah… it is.

If the NCAA had been proactive even a little, we never would have gotten to this point. Instead, they are admitting that NIL is a runaway train, and they are asking the federal government to put up barriers.

The NCAA has outlived its usefulness. Someday, the SEC and Big 10 will break away from the organization and perhaps set up their own governing body.  At that point, the NCAA’s days will be numbered.

That day can’t come soon enough.

There’s no guarantee that the future of collegiate sports will be better when it comes to rules… but how can it be worse?