AD Jim Sterk writes op-ed questioning precedent set by NCAA following Missouri's punishment despite cooperation
No doubt about it, the NCAA dropped the hammer on Missouri following an investigation into academic misconduct at the school.
We all know the story by now, a school-issued tutor assisted in academic work for some Missouri student-athletes spanning multiple sports but it was the school that notified the NCAA upon this discovery and following the NCAA’s investigation, the term “exemplary” was used by the NCAA to describe Missouri’s cooperation with the investigation.
Taking that into consideration, it is odd that schools that refuse to cooperate, such as North Carolina which recently had the NCAA investigation into academic misconduct, get completely off the hook. The logic there is baffling to many, including Missouri AD Jim Sterk.
In a recently published op-ed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sterk outlines the biggest issue he has with the NCAA’s decision to ban the football team from postseason play and hand down recruiting restrictions for violations that had nothing to do with recruiting.
What are the expectations of athletic leaders when individuals break the rules?
A sanction should be designed to change future behavior. Based on this decision, what exactly is expected from all of us in the future?
The penalties that our program is now appealing were surprising in severity, particularly after investigators praised our “exemplary” cooperation throughout the joint investigation. Since the announcement, journalists, community members and Missouri leaders, and even our athletic competitors, have expressed puzzlement that integrity and truthfulness turned out to be a poor strategy.
In our case, we acted swiftly once bad behavior was discovered. We self-reported, we cooperated, we took responsibility, and we took further action to ensure our employees and students understood our “Win it Right” culture.
We removed the employee who acted alone in creating a tutoring violation, and we held 12 student-athletes accountable. We focused the consequences on those involved, but years later, the penalties delivered by the Infractions Committee did not.
We won’t know the result of Missouri’s appeal for some time, likely several months, but it’s fair to say Missouri is coming off as the sympathetic one when it comes to this case. Unfortunately, that seems to par for the course when it comes to the NCAA these days.