July 12, 2016
If you follow Georgia Southern or live anywhere near Statesboro, you are probably aware that last week the NCAA announced infractions by Georgia Southern’s football program and the punishment to be handed down as a result.
Without getting too detailed, two separate violations were found between 2013 and 2014, both of which involved athletics staff providing improper academic assistance to student-athletes. Georgia Southern self-reported the 2013 incident to the NCAA when the professor discovered the academic dishonesty and came forward with the information.
My understanding is that the university employee was fired, the student-athlete was removed from the team and his scholarship was revoked as soon as university administration became aware of the situation.
The 2014 incident was a semester-long pattern that involved a staff member completing extra credit assignments for two football players without the student-athletes’ knowledge. Again, that person was relieved of their duties once their actions were discovered.
With all that said, I have a question. Why is Georgia Southern just now being punished in July 2016 for an incident it came forward to the NCAA about almost three years ago? I seriously have to wonder how many people who were employed by Georgia Southern athletics in 2013 are even still there now to accept this punishment.
I’m not such a homer to try to say there should be no punishment for such infractions. But 2013 was two coaching staffs ago. I’m not saying Jeff Monken, Willie Fritz or anyone on their staffs is at fault — these were obviously both situations where employees acted on their own to blatantly break the rules. But Georgia Southern has a first-year head coach in Tyson Summers who is inheriting penalties for crimes that occurred when he was defensive coordinator at Central Florida.
I don’t have an answer for how these situations should be handled. The university has to be punished somehow, without a doubt. Sure, the athletics director and administration can’t babysit every employee and student-athlete 24 hours a day. And ultimately, these rules were broken by individuals employed by the university, most likely using university resources.
But what in the world took so long? I understand that governing bodies like the NCAA just don’t move quickly on things like this. That’s just how it is. But three years? Would it be too much to ask to announce the violations and punishment within a year? I think that’s plenty of time — especially when the university not only cooperates with the investigations, but self-reports the violations to begin with.
As it stands, even though Georgia Southern appeared to handle everything the right way once it learned of the misconduct three years ago, bringing this back up sheds a negative light on the university when, as far as I know (and hope), the program now is being run cleanly.
I can complain all I want, but all we can do now is move forward. Georgia Southern staff members and student-athletes broke the rules and the university is being punished. And honestly, losing a couple of scholarships, vacating a few wins, losing some official recruiting visits and paying a fine isn’t exactly the program’s death penalty. The Eagles are still eligible for postseason play and it remains to be seen which games will have to be vacated. Hopefully, the 2014 Sun Belt Championship is safe.
By the time September rolls around and the Eagles take the field, hopefully this is a distant memory in the minds of most of Eagle Nation.
Speaking of, kickoff is less than two months away. And I’m ready.