Mark Emmert, Ph.D.
National Collegiate Athletic Association
700 West Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46206
RE: Request for a Formal Apology to Cleveland State University
Dear Dr. Emmert:
I hope this letter finds you well, though I suspect with the NCAA tackling multiple lawsuits defending this whole fallacy of the amateur status of the student-athlete, you might have your hands a bit tied up. I promise that this particular correspondence will not take much of your time, but I felt that it was necessary that I contact you regarding my alma mater, Cleveland State.
You see, Dr. Emmert, I have, throughout the year, witnessed numerous incidents that involved member institutions of your organization that have me quite puzzled. Do they happen to tie in with the current legal troubles you’re having? Perhaps, but I will get to that later on in this letter.
What I really have a hard time grasping, sir, is the inexplicable definition of justice you’ve seemed to have laid out for your organization. For example, a school within CSU’s athletic conference, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, recently was sanctioned for their perpetually low APR score in men’s basketball and, as a result, will be barred from post-season play. While I understand you’ve done this for larger institutions such as the University of Connecticut, I am interested in learning how exactly a school like Kentucky, with student-athletes regularly forgoing the remainder of their education for the pros, escapes scrutiny.
More to the point, Dr. Emmert, I would like to get to the crux of my confusion with your organization. As I have previously stated, as an alumni of Cleveland State, I have been quite befuddled over the circumstances in which the NCAA saw fit, back in the 1980s, to levy the institution with some rather harsh penalties.
Understandably, you were not in charge of the organization during this inquiry and subsequent penalty phase. That said, compared to some of the punishments doled out over the past 25 years, I would like to see some prudency on your part to retroactively dial back what happen to CSU.
This clearly requires some explanation as again, you were not involved in the original discussion. In 1983, Cleveland State coach Kevin Mackey was intrigued by a player out of the Sudan named Manute Bol. Of course, given his career in the NBA, I do not doubt you know that name. In any event, Mackey had facilitated Bol’s arrival to the country, as well as English classes at nearby Case Western Reserve University.
Ultimately, Bol decided to go to a Division II school and play there for a season before eventually being drafted by the Washington Bullets. Mind you, Dr. Emmert, that Bol did not play a single minute as a Viking.
And yet, it was your organization that saw fit to put its foot down on Cleveland State’s throat, banning the school from post-season play for two years to go along with three years of probation, a year without television and restrictions on recruiting.
I must point out once again that Bol was never a student-athlete at CSU and, considering he played at another institution, whatever assistance he was given did not serve to induce him into enrolling at the school, let alone play for the year.
At this same time, I would like to also point out that a similar penalty was doled out to Kentucky a year later. I bring these sanctions to your attention because the violations found at this institution were far more egregious than those for which Cleveland State was penalized.
Since that point in time, I have witnessed countless schools, from the University of Miami to USC, commit a wide variety of transgressions and again, each far worse than anything that had transpired at CSU. And yet, their sanctions appeared to be far lighter.
In the interest of your time, I will move forward to the present day, when apparently you are faced with issues at Notre Dame involving academic fraud, on top of ongoing issues with the University of North Carolina. As an organization that has consistently touted its mission to promote a balance of academics and athletics, I would like to think that this violation, if found to be true, should find the guilty institution punished far worse than that of Cleveland State.
Unfortunately, I suspect this won’t be the case, mostly because North Carolina has already been down this road of academic fraud with its football team, among other problems. And the penalty for those nine major violations? A 2012 post-season ban, vacating wins and three years’ probation.
I apologize if it seems like I am piling on to your present woes and if you believe that this is the case, well, I frankly do not care in the least. While you may not have presided over CSU’s fate, you certainly have had a hand in much lighter sanctions for violators who do not seemed that concerned with what the NCAA does to them.
And it is in light of this, I implore you to atone for the damage your organization inflicted upon Cleveland State. An apology will do nicely, thank you.
Oh, and to whomever in the NCAA was responsible for demanding that CSU take down the banner they had put up when they had won the regular season conference title under the Let’s Pretend League moniker, could you please have that person lighten up and let the school put that banner back up. I do know it does exist within the archives.
Thank you for your time, Dr. Emmert. Good luck with your current legal issues. You are certainly going to need it.