In case you, like me and the rest of the country, were too busy watching the election results roll in then you missed an announcement by the NCAA suspending (and fining) IU freshmen Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin. Both players were suspended nine games and fined an undisclosed amount of money. The reason (as I understand it): receiving improper benefits from and Indiana booster. OK let’s start with the fines because that’s quick and easy to address. NCAA, ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? You just fined two freshman players for something that was beyond their control (I’ll explain more in a second). Not to mention, they DON’T get paid to play. Granted, the rumors are that they will be able to take this money from their scholarships and it is going to a charity of their choosing but come on that’s just ridiculous.
OK now for the more complicated part: the so called booster. This booster is Mark Adams, the head coach of the Indiana Elite AAU team, founder of the A-HOPE foundation (African Hoop Opportunities Providing an Education) based in Bloomington, an IU alum, oh and legal guardian of Mosquera-Perea. While there have been many stories written about the possibility of shady business within the A-HOPE foundation/Indiana Elite (i.e. funneling players to big name schools) it’s not like they’ve all been coming to Indiana, Liggins went to Kentucky and Negudu (whose career was unfortunately shortened by a heart condition) went to New Mexico to name a few. So why now? What do the cigar smoking cronies an hour to the north of Bloomington have against IU? And yes, I have a sever distrust of the NCAA as I do with most sports governing bodies (we all know FIFA and the IOC are really good at taking money under the table and well the verdict is still out on David Stern and some of the other commissioners). So let’s break this down, we’ll start with the booster part.
In their decision on Tuesday, the NCAA declared Adams an Indiana booster because of $185 donated to the IU varsity club from 1986-1992. According to Adams most of that money was in the form of IU bumper stickers purchased by his ex-wife. I would like to point out that this all occurred before these two players were born. Secondly, how does $185 qualify you as booster?? That’s absurd. I donated $20 to UIndy a couple weeks ago (oh the joys of being an alum) and purchased a few shirts from the bookstore while I was there…would that make me a booster? Certainly not, so why this? What about parents who donate money to their Alma maters? Are their children allowed to participate in athletic teams at the same schools? I may be reading too much into this but I feel like the NCAA has opened up a can of worms that they should have never touched. I understand why the booster-benefits rules exist and think they are necessary but $185 dollars is extreme.
The next part of this involves the benefits. As I mentioned before, Adams was Mosquera-Perea’s legal guardian. According to the NCAA the inappropriate benefits provided came in the form of a lap-top for high school and a cell phone which Adams paid the bill. Considering Adams was the legal guardian, the NCAA had no problem with these “benefits,” if you can call them that. They sound more like just supporting your kid. In fact, had these two gone anywhere else then I would be writing about something else. The problem is that Adams was suddenly considered a booster which suddenly makes these benefits (still not sure they are benefits) inappropriate.
To make matters worse, Adams and IU both contacted the NCAA and self-reported this information to check to see if they did anything wrong and the initial response was well not really given, this was over a year ago. Adams claims that the NCAA told him that they didn’t really have anything for this type of scenario. With all that said, why did it take until three days before the season opener to make a decision? I think the biggest question is why are you punishing those who are not at fault?
While I’m not convinced anyone is at fault, I know for a fact that the players are not yet they are being punished the most. The fact that they are receiving the brunt of this is absurd. I’m not even sure IU did anything wrong. The whole thing is mind-boggling. I think Jay Bilas (ESPN analyst) put it best in an interview with the staff of Inside the Hall:
“What you’ve got is a system where people are thinking about slippery slopes and pandora’s box and all the worst things that can happen when they need to look at the individual situation and say, ‘look, this is ridiculous. Instead of thinking about messages, think about the players. These are unpaid players in a professional system. So they’re asked to pay money back? For what? Because somebody bought a car sticker? That’s absurd.It’s even more laughable when you consider the NCAA is going through a process right now where all they’re talking about is addressing real threats to integrity. I hardly think any reasonable person looks at Perea and Jurkin and thinks that they’re real threats to integrity.”
As you can tell, I like every Hoosier fan I know or have heard from, think this is ridiculous and it’s nice to see that we aren’t the only ones; Bilas wasn’t the only big name to criticize the NCAA. IU has stated that they will appeal the ruling but we all know how appeals usually turn out.
Alright, I hope everyone has a great rest of the weekend and gets to enjoy time away from the office/lab/classroom/wherever it is you work. Thanks, as always, for reading and hoping you all can tune in next week. I’ll close with a quote for Hoosier Nation (it may or may not include subtle hints).
"When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back! Get mad! I don't want your lemons, what am I supposed to do with these? Demand to see life's manager! Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons! Do you know who I am? I'm the man who's gonna burn your house down! With the lemons! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that burns your house down!"
-Cave Johnson (Portal)