Q: In 1993, Syracuse was on the first year of a two-year probation for major recruiting violations, yet they were allowed to play in the Big East Tournament while being denied the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament.
Has anyone asked Mike Aresco why there seems to be a double standard regarding UConn? This is not the first example of such selective enforcement. Furthermore, it seems counterproductive for UConn and the league, in view of the current academic standing of the team and the fact this may well be the last Big East Tournament. To play this year without the most successful team in the history of the conference may well put a stamp of finality on the league and the icing on the cake regarding all the bad decisions the league has made over the past decade that have lead it to its imminent demise.
A: Hi Alex. First, a brief programming note. I get a lot of blank question forms. That may be spam. But be sure, if you want to get a question through to me, to fill out the form correctly, as Alex has obviously done.
Now, like many aspects of UConn’s postseason ban, the Big East Tournament ban is unfair to the current players, who are doing well academically, and that has been gone over many, many times. This is not the commissioner’s call, however, but the league’s school presidents. They voted last March to keep UConn out, and have not been receptive to UConn’s lobbying for a change.
I would bet, in his heart of hearts, Mike Aresco would like to see UConn participate, for all the business reasons Alex has laid out here. It will be bad for attendance, TV ratings and the prestige of the league and the tournament to have UConn out.
As to the first part: Twenty years ago, leagues were more willing to act independently of the NCAA. The Big East wanted Syracuse in and allowed it, letting the NCAA ban stand on its own. In recent years, that has not been the case. Leagues have determined it’s best to follow the NCAA line on these matters. In this case, Big East presidents are not only sensitive about the league’s relationship with the NCAA, when it has enough problems, but about the possible perception that they were softer than the NCAA on academics, if they were to allow UConn to play while it is under a postseason ban for APR/academic reasons. Again, that would be an unfair perception, but outside of Connecticut that would probably be the perception; the league would be criticized for relenting. So fair or unfair, the league presidents have taken this stand and it is not going to change. However, I would tend to agree with Alex: It’s a double standard, despite the 20-year interval. And given the revelations of the past week, this would be a good time for a conference to stand up and dare to buck the NCAA.
Also, I would wonder, with all the comings and goings, just which Big East presidents were allowed to vote and why? How about a new vote, right now – involving only the schools who are going to be in the league going forward? I bet they would want the 2013 league tournament to have as much interest and credibility as possible.
But that’s not going to happen, either. UConn, then, might as well move on and continue to think about making the most of next season.
… A reminder, our live chat will be Thursday at 10:45 a.m., as usual.