• Looking at the NCAA’s ruling on Perry Jones

    Perry Jones IIISince hearing the news about the suspension of Perry Jones III yesterday, what’s stood out to me most is the penalty’s inconsistency with other recent NCAA actions and the powerful impact the decision has had on Jones and his Baylor teammates. Scanning the headlines this morning, it appears many others feel the same way; media and fans all over the country are publicly sharing their thoughts about the NCAA’s actions.

    CBSsports.com immediately noted the parallels between Perry Jones’ case and that of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton last fall, when Newton’s father was found to be shopping his son to various schools in return for a six-figure payout. The NCAA reinstated Newton after just one day, ruling that he could not be punished for his parent’s actions.

    Yahoo! Sports compares Jones’ punishment with that of six Ohio State football players found guilty of blatant rules violations in December. But rather than suspend those players (including the team’s starting quarterback) for the Sugar Bowl, the NCAA cited “the unique opportunity these (bowls) provide” and instead suspended the players for the start of the 2011 season, letting them play in the bowl.

    At Baylor, however, Jones was suspended just at the start of the playoffs because of his mother’s dealings with a longtime family friend, Jones’ AAU coach, which the NCAA ruled crossed the letter of the law. Jones’ mother received (and quickly repaid) several small loans from the coach, a man Jones has known since at least the sixth grade. Also in question is a trip Jones took with this coach to a preseason NFL game. (Both actions happened while Jones was in high school and had nothing to do with his recruitment.)

    Yahoo! Sports’ Jason King writes, “Good gosh, NCAA. Jones and his family don’t look bad in all of this. You do.”

    As Baylor Director of Athletics Ian McCaw told the Waco Tribune-Herald, “Every student-athlete should be treated fairly and consistently whether you’re Ohio State, Auburn or Baylor or Sam Houston.” Media, impartial observers and Baylor fans around the nation are rising up and expressing their concerns with exactly this issue.

    For instance:
    * A Houston Chronicle column this morning asks, “Was this really called for, NCAA?
    * Noting the inconsistencies, a Sporting News headline reads, “Perry Jones suspension highlights NCAA’s ‘pathetic course’.”
    * A columnist for The Oklahoman updates a famous quote for the situation: “The NCAA is so mad at [Ohio State head coach] Jim Tressel, it ruled Perry Jones III ineligible.

    A New York Times Magazine writer who spent a good deal of time around the Bears this year sums it up: “What exactly did Perry Jones do to warrant a harsher penalty than Jim Calhoun or the players and coaches at Ohio State? Was he more grasping? More brazen in his violation of the N.C.A.A.’s notions of amateurism? Did he personally withhold information about possible major rules violations — as Tressel, a lavishly paid adult, was said to have done? That seems to me something that the N.C.A.A. ought to promptly step up and explain after having made Jones sit out what may have been his last college game.

    It’s interesting, too, to see the comments fans from all over are leaving on many of these sites, from The New York Times article to CBSsports.com to even the NCAA’s Facebook page, calling for consistency and actions that are in the best interests of the student-athlete.

    As a Baylor alum, I’m saddened to see the Baylor name tarnished in any way. And beyond that, I’m disappointed for Perry Jones — universally considered a great kid — and his Baylor teammates. But I’m also happy to see so many people, inside the Baylor Nation and out, standing up for PJ3 and the Bears here. I just hope we’ll get to see some real justice done.

    Sic ’em, Baylor basketball!

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