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Post Is self-policing the answer?

Monday May 27, 2002

So the Ole Miss chancellor has suggested that the SEC police itself concerning violations of NCAA rules. It would be a good start, but the membership and direction of such a body would have to be very closely scrutinized.

In the current climate of the SEC, only South Carolina and Vandy have been without an NCAA investigation or sanction concerning the football program since 1987, and several have been nailed multiple times. Fair or not, the prima facie implication with that kind of track record is a conference out of control, an administration ineffective to reign in its membership, and a climate where a win-at-any-cost mentality rules.

The conference is at a crossroads. The impending retirement of Roy Kramer gives the chance for reform in a truly positive and different direction in terms of academic and regulatory reform. While the performances on the field have been the best in the nation and the conference is among the best in nearly every sport, the core is rotting away from the inside. Academic integrity is an oxymoron, runaway boosters threaten to derail the legitimacy of entire universities, and fans incapable of separating the contests of sport from real life are relishing the next program to go down. The hint that the SEC may promote from within indicates that the conference membership is content with the status quo; bulging purses have made it easy to reenlist for more of the same.

The SEC is nothing but its membership. If the twelve schools and its presidents, chancellors, and athletic directors believe that things are OK as-is, that will be reflected in their choice for the next commissioner and their lack of support for Robert Khayat’s initiative for reform. Cynics among us see that as the exact course of action we can expect over the summer as Kramer retires and a great chance for a new direction is missed.

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