Sports Today: Schools thumb their noses at NCAA

Credit: Streeter Lecka

Credit: Streeter Lecka

Late Friday night my suggestion to the NCAA regarding how to handle the budding college basketball scandal was fairly popular.

Since this is going to involve so many schools and so many players, the schools should vote to allow a day of amnesty between now and Selection Sunday.

Everyone who admits violations and removes themselves from the NCAA tournament this year is immune to other penalties (unless more violations come out related to this incident).

This lowers the likelihood we end up with a tainted champion and has the added benefit of potentially including more mid-major programs in the most-wide-open field ever.

Since most of the schools mentioned in Yahoo’s report have already claimed innocence after farcical “investigations," I guess that’s not going to happen.

Yeah, kinda went the other direction on that one.

Instead we just got confirmation the schools who make up the NCAA and decide what its rules are have zero respect for those rules, or at least the enforcement process.

Maybe they are justified, especially in the latter, but it still should be pointed out so we all know what we’re dealing with here.

Michigan State was among teams apparently betting the NCAA is either going to give everyone a pass on this while drastically changing the rules this summer or never get its hands on the records from an FBI investigation that leaked to reporters over the weekend.

After somehow performing a “thorough” investigation of star wing Miles Bridges and declaring him eligible in less than 48 hours, the Spartans beat Wisconsin to lock up the outright Big Ten championship and the top seed in the conference tournament.

I suspect what this means is they asked everyone in question if they were innocent, they all said yes and then everyone went about their days as if nothing happened.

This can be a fairly reliable approach given how bad the NCAA is at proving violations. It has worked before, and it is sure to work again.

That doesn’t mean it looks right.

(To be clear, Bridges has a right to defend himself. The charges his mother received money from an agent’s runner could be false, but proving his innocence in such a short amount of time really strains credibility.

Even if the allegations are true, the prescribed punishment would be for just part of a season, but allowing a player to play when it turns out he was ineligible really ratchets up the risk for MSU and everyone else who made a similar decision. Until all the facts are determined, schools frequently declare players ineliglbe just in case a violation has occurred. Here it seems they moved forward with at best a limited number of facts.

Ohio State went down this road when it supposedly handled the “Tattgate” allegations internally in short order initially, and it did not exactly work out for the Buckeyes or their coach when more facts came to light later.) 

The feeling I had watching that game — Bridges wasn’t at his best, but he made the free throws to clinch it in the last minute — is what I would think the NCAA and its television partners would want to avoid when the big tournament rolls around in a couple of weeks.

That’s why I suggested amnesty.

Then again, maybe TV partners figure fans would rather watch big-name programs they think cheated than teams they haven’t heard of. Maybe they’re right.

What are your thoughts?

Email me or let me know on Twitter or Facebook…

Michigan State’s win relegated Ohio State to a second place in the Big Ten regular season standings. 

The Buckeyes tied Purdue but got the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament thanks to a win in West Lafayette.

Ohio State got another win in Indiana over the weekend when the Buckeyes beat Archie Miller’s Hoosiers in double overtime at Assembly Hall.

This was a pair of gritty teams without great overall talent duking it out for 50 minutes, a pure Big Ten basketball game (for better or for worse) if I ever saw one.

Whatever happens in New York City, Ohio State will benefit from this extended break that is resulting from the ridiculous schedule the conference had to play in order to ridiculously hold its tournament at Madison Square Garden…

Wright State let a conference title slip through its hands by losing at IUPUI on Friday. 

Northern Kentucky subsequently took care of business, winning both of its games and securing the Horizon League championship.

>> 5 things to know about WSU's upset loss at IUPUI

A banner to hang for this season would have been nice, of course, but all is not lost for the Raiders.

They were going to have to win the Horizon League tournament to earn a bid to the NCAA tournament anyway.

Now they go in with something more to prove, though they could have to beat NKU for a third time in order to do that.

Wright State starts the postseason Saturday in Detroit against Detroit Mercy or Green Bay…

Dayton went to Rhode Island and was blown out by the Atlantic 10 champions. 

The Flyers had one of their patented fall-asleep stretches in the second half and never recovered.

» GAME COVERAGE: Five takeawaysPhotosGame story

On the bright side, Kostas Antetokounmpo got another extended look and did some good things.

On the down side, veterans Darrell Davis and Josh Cunningham combined for only 11 points and Xeyrius Williams was left at home “to tend to academic responsibilities” (per a school spokesperson).

» KEY STAT: Turnovers doom Dayton in road loss

The Flyers have two games left and have to win them both to avoid a losing record in the regular season.

Then they get that same March reset everyone is entitled to, but there’s not much reason to think they can go on a run over a weekend when putting together even one good 40-minute stretch has been a struggle this season…

Meanwhile, Ohio State and Dayton both earned the No. 1 seed in their women’s basketball conference tournaments and won their leagues outright. 

While the Flyers (a surprising loss over the weekend after everything was locked up notwithstanding) have been dominant from the start, the Buckeyes enjoyed quite a turnaround from the middle of the season.

They looked lost during consecutive defeats at Michigan, Maryland and Iowa in January but won their last eight conference games.

Maryland faltered down the stretch, allowing the Buckeyes to swoop in for their 16th Big Ten championship in 36 seasons of women’s basketball.

That is seven more than anyone else. Iowa is next with nine championships.

Ohio State has that many outright titles, including this season.

Along the way, Kelsey Mitchell moved into the No. 3 spot on the NCAA’s all-time scoring list, passing Brittney Griner.

Mitchell has somewhere between two and nine games left in her college career and trails all-time leading scorer Kelsey Plum of Washington by 241 points…

Lastly we have the Cincinnati Reds. 

They kicked off spring training games over the weekend, and early returns seem mostly positive.

So far they have gotten solid pitching performances from starting rotation candidates Sal Romano, Tyler Mahle, Homer Bailey, Luis Castillo and Amir Garrett.

Nick Senzel made his debut with the big club over the weekend, too, starting at third base Sunday.

Batting second, he went 1 for 3 and scored a run.

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