Thursday, May 26, 2011

Don't Blame Pat Haden

USC fans are going crazy over the NCAA refusing to reverse its prior decision to impose a two year bowl ban and a loss of 30 football scholarships over three years. However, there seems to be a bit of misdirection in their rage. As much of their ire is directed at Pat Haden, recently appointed Athletic Director, as at the NCAA. Indeed, Haden is being portrayed as a traitor and even a tool of Notre Dame, the school for which he was football telecast color commentator. The thinking is that Haden's strategy of co-operation with the NCAA during the appeal process, as opposed to the arrogant opposition shown by the prior athletic administration was completely inappropriate.

What these fans fail to recognize is that stonewalling the NCAA at the investigation stage is what made the NCAA penalties so severe in the first place. As reformed USC honk Petros Papadakis points out, this is why Ohio State and Auburn have self-reported potentially major violations and is what distinguishes those cases from USC. All Haden was doing was trying to undo the damage done by his predecessor athletic director, Mike Garrett. Garrett was a person so devoid of interpersonal skills that one highly placed USC source once said to me out of the blue, in a conversation that had nothing to do with USC or sports, that USC athletic director was an "a**hole". There is an irony in that USC fans themselves have been highly critical over the years of Mike Garrett's tenure as atheltic director, and now they are suffering from his actions to boot.

It is also ludicrous to think of Haden as a traitor to USC by virtue of his working on telecasts of Notre Dame football. Sports announcing, just like coaching, is just a job, and one where there are a limited number of openings. So if you're a USC diehard, but you get an opportunity to broadcast Notre Dame games, do you turn it down? I doubt it. And how many SC gripers heard Haden's answer to the hypothetical question to what he would do if he received a multi-million dollar windfall? He said he would give a good portion of it to his alma mater.

The other thing is that a large majority of USC fans want to sue the NCAA, perhaps even a class action suit by the fans, since the school has stated it will not sue. But what would be the grounds for a suit? You can't sue a voluntary membership organization like the NCAA merely for not playing fair with you. The NCAA is not a government organization. There is no racial or other impermissible discrimination charged. I would think any cause of action would arise out of contract law, and USC's team of lawyers have undoubtedly checked out every angle.

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