Friday, November 15, 2013

Vol. 3 No. 70 Justice Delivered, Albeit Slowly for BYU Runner Jared Ward

We'd like to think that our little rant yesterday turned the tide in favor of Jared Ward regaining his eligibility for his senior year of cross country at BYU.  However this was three years in the making. 
Today's headlines in Utah sports pages announced victory for the BYU runner and his teammates, apart from the seventh man who will now be sidelined as Jared is back on the line tomorrow at the NCAA regional cross country meet. 

Jared, his coach, Ed Eyestone, and the BYU administrators were gracious in their remarks of 'gratitude' to the NCAA for the reinstatement.  This may not be the sentiment seething beneath the surface.  In fact I would have preferred to hear what Bobby Knight, Harry Edwards, Woody Hayes, or Leo Durocher might have said in a similar situation.   It just shows that people are still very wary of what the powers that be might do to them if they get too uppity.

A more thoughtful individual passed on the following view of the situation and the rule.  Bill Schnier, recently retired track and cross country coach at the University of Cincinnati, sent the following remarks.  He also talks about the use of college football players by the military in WWII.  Thanks, Bill.   When I first started coaching at U. of Dayton in 1999, Bill told me something to the effect, that if you have to make a decision about what to do in a coaching situation,  if it seems to make sense or seems humane and the right thing to do, there is probably a rule against it.

Here is Bill's note:
Usually the penalty is enacted because of money won during a road race, making the person a professional and eliminating him from all future NCAA competition.  That will soon change when NCAA athletes will be allowed to receive some payment for their playing or their likeness.  The problem is that the NCAA is trying to decide where to draw the line.  Organized competition ranges all the way from this Halloween race to European basketball leagues where the student-athletes play against professionals.  However, common sense should kick in at some point and the rules should be specific in order to accommodate innocuous events like this one.

   If I am not mistaken, football players enrolled in the military during WW II did play in organized leagues and did not lose any eligibility.  The most notable was Great Lakes Naval Station in Chicago where Paul Brown was the coach.  He assembled an incredible team there and took the best of them with him to form the nucleus of the Cleveland Browns after the war.  Others went back to college and played for their university.  The most notable were Army and Navy who accepted players from other colleges and the army without penalty making them among the top-ranked teams in the country in the late 1940s.  I believe their four-year clock started over again if they attended West Point or Annapolis during those years potentially giving them 8 years of college eligibility.  What was done during those unusual years and today are unrelated because the situation is so different.  I am not positive of those details but I do recall reading about events like that from Si Burick of the Dayton Daily News when his Stivers High School friend, Earl "Red" Blaik, coached at West Point.

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