Let’s begin class with a brief history lesson, one that I’m sure will be of little suspense.

The NCAA has forever — and when I say forever, I mean forever + 1 — held firm as the reaction police.

Never proactive, always reactive.

Never getting ahead of problems, always scrambling for solutions.

And because the NCAA prefers to ignore everything remotely negative — and when I say everything, I mean everything + 1 — until it slaps them in the face, they’re now staring at the longstanding unforgivable sin that is student-athletes and team staffers gambling on games.

The latest events at Alabama, Iowa and Iowa State — where coaches, players and support staff were allegedly betting on games within their sport and school (Alabama) and outside of it (Iowa, Iowa State) — aren’t the problem, they’re an unwieldy tentacle of the never proactive collateral damage.

Just how much damage — and how widespread gambling is at other institutions — depends how deep in the weeds NCAA investigators take this thing.

Because if you believe gambling on games ends with the baseball coach at Alabama, and 49 players and staffers at Iowa and Iowa State, you may as well go join Team Head In The Sand in Indianapolis — where just last year, the former president of the NCAA stood on the stage at the end of the billion dollar showcase that is March Madness (trademark) and handed the trophy to a proven cheater.

But I digress.

So how did we get here, amid the awful stench of the NCAA’s unforgivable sin? Here’s a hint: not because the NCAA was proactive.

And when I say the NCAA is never proactive, I mean never + 1.

Because when state after state approved gambling laws over the past few years, the NCAA decided to sit and wait and hope its colorful posters extolling the ills of gambling, hung fittingly on the dark, sweaty walls of college weight rooms since the 1990s, would suffice.

Instead of, I don’t know, being proactive.

Instead of 3 years ago — after it was obvious where the country was headed as far as embracing gambling outside of Nevada — proactively setting strict, zero tolerance rules against it.

Instead, in the era of player empowerment, the NCAA decided to give student-athletes wiggle room.

I want to be very clear here: I’m a huge advocate for player rights; they deserve every athletic, monetary and medical benefit they can get.

But there’s a price. And that price is the integrity of the games.

NCAA rules state if players accept or place a bet on any college or professional team other than their own, they will automatically be suspended for a minimum of of 1 year and be charged a season of competition.

I’m sure the quarterback at State U. is terrified of that rule, while running up hundreds of thousands in debt while gambling on NFL games. I’m sure that debt wouldn’t — in any way, shape or form — make him vulnerable to someone trying to get him to throw a game.

Sitting out 1 season to throw a game? He can do that standing on his head, baby.

Only if players bet on a team at their school will they become permanently ineligible, and “risk losing your scholarship” and “being expelled from school altogether.”

Because the NCAA is so desperate to be something for everyone, there’s no zero tolerance consequences for anyone.

When the rush of states passing gambling laws began to flow, the NCAA should’ve made a clear and unambiguous law: any student-athlete or team staffer who gambles on any game — any team, any individual, any horse, Jai alai, dog track, et al — their amateur status is permanently and irrevocably revoked.

They can never play college sports again, they lose their scholarship and they’re expelled from school.

In the age of NIL, this is a legitimate threat to many players. You’re not just eliminating their ability to play, you’re eliminating their ability to earn.

You’re not going to stop everyone. There will be some who simply won’t be intimidated by the thought of losing everything. It’s part of the chase.

But when the idea is — above all else — protecting the integrity of the game, you can’t be ambiguous. You can’t be everything for everyone.

The NCAA whiffed on NIL, throwing open the doors to players earning off their name, image and likeness while simultaneously giving players a free transfer year and creating de facto free agency.

The NCAA has whiffed in court and in front of Congress over and over of late while desperately defending the archaic amateur model.

The NCAA is currently whiffing on pay-for-play, ignoring the opportunity to get in front of sharing more than $4 billion annually in media rights with players — before it gets too far down the road and the NCAA can’t control the amount or the narrative.

And the NCAA won’t dig deep on gambling. They’ll stop at Alabama and Iowa and Iowa State, and they’ll talk about increased efforts in strengthening the integrity of the games.

Relax, everyone. The reaction police is on it.

Forever + 1.