The NCAA wants you to know that domestic abuse is bad.
However, when it comes to actually disciplining students arrested for abuse, college sports' governing body is punting.
NCAA president Mark Emmert told reporters last week that individual schools, not the over-arching institution that already governs eligibility and recruitment, are responsible for handling issues of domestic violence and sexual assault.
"If a student-athlete engages in bad behavior, they have to be subject to the same standards of conduct as everyone else," Emmert told reporters before speaking about the future of college sports at Kansas City's Rockhurt University.
The NCAA's highest ranking officials, including Emmert, are probably very happy to leave discipline to their member schools. After all, look at the heat NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has taken over his inappropriate inaction regarding the high-profile abuse committed by former Ravens running back Ray Rice.
However, trying to say that schools should control punishment of their athletes simply to treat them like other students is laughable at best.
Emmert just reached for the easiest excuse available to avoid taking responsibility for punishing college players.
The student-athlete fallacy
Simply put, athletes aren't treated like regular students right now.
Can regular students be drug tested regularly and randomly throughout the semester, as often as 188 times in eight months? Do they have other students assigned to track them and make sure they are going to class, and to snitch on them if they don't? Short of failing their classes, are ordinary students required to meet a certain G.P.A. to keep participating in activities on campus?
No, college athletes are already treated very differently from ordinary students. Not only that, but the NCAA plays a major role in setting that difference. It makes rules regarding how players can profit off their likeness, what kind of meals the athletic institutions can provide on their behalf and what grades are required to keep them on the field.
To claim that student-athletes "should be subject to the same standards of conduct as everyone else," is to ignore the fact that due to the NCAA's supervision, student-athletes are almost never treated like their fellow students.
Whether to intervene
That's not to say that the NCAA should be micro-managing its member schools.
There is no overarching reason why big brother should so strictly regulate what colleges do with their athletes, at least, not in the way it currently does.
But if the NCAA is going to inject itself into academics and drug policy, why shouldn't it also fight to decrease the number of athletes who continue to play after domestic and child abuse cases?
That hypocritical stance lies at the heart of the NCAA's silly insistence on the legitimacy of calling its stars "student-athletes." The NCAA recently launched a partnership with the White House called "It's On Us," to help young men and women take more responsibility for themselves and their behavior.
But really, it's the NCAA that should be taking more responsibility. Or if you're going to shy away from that, at least try not to be the moral overload in other handpicked arenas at the same time.
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