What’s a fan to do when the NCAA comes after you?

It’s been nearly two years since initial word of an NCAA investigation over the Oregon program came to light, and since then most of the major players involved have flown the coop.  Lache Seastrunk, the running back out of Texas, is enjoying his successes at Baylor.  Willie Lyles, the man responsible for the investigation, has been relatively quiet.  Chip Kelly, the former head coach, is in Philadelphia. Former assistant director of football operations, Josh Gibson, who was Oregon’s main recruiting contact, followed Kelly to the Eagles.

Two years have passed, and we still no ides of what Oregon faces.  All this makes you wonder, as fans: what do we do?

Oregon is set to enter the 2013-14 season under the brightest of scopes.  More talent returns to Autzen than perhaps any other season.  Potentially, two Heisman-contenders fill the backfield, and a fast, deep defense stalks the other side.  On their plate is a favorable schedule, plenty of experience, and more optimism that ever before. Except…

What if?

In the world of sports, it’s common for fans to be kept in the dark, and most of the time it’s probably for our own good.  If we knew 1/10th of what went on behind closed doors, there would be no heroes, no passion for our squads.  Sports teams, their front offices and the locker rooms, are dirty, viral places.  They’re shady, manipulative, and down right shrewd.  Most of the time, being left in the dark, only to see the on-field product is seen as being best for all involved.

What about when you don’t know what the on-field product will be, or who will be there — what are fans supposed to put their hopes on when they don’t know what their program will look like?

Oregon is obviously not the first program to be facing NCAA problems; one must only turn on ESPN to see plenty of teams in trouble.  What fans in Coral Gables, Columbus, and Eugene have in common is the unrelenting waiting period.  Fans and players in all places deserve better, are entitled to more.  They have done nothing wrong, yet they face the brunt of the punishment.

Willie Lyles and Chip Kelly making a shady business deal, if that is in fact what happened, is affecting you, me, and Marcus Mariota more than those who brought this scrutiny upon us.  That’s the problem with the NCAA.  Past crimes are exponentially more punitive to the people who came in after the offense(s), as opposed to the people who were involved.  The current squad of players did nothing wrong; yet they face the scrutiny and will pay for an indiscretion they did not commit, while others will walk away, throw their hands up, and say “I’m not involved.”

This is not going to change, and I get that — it’s been that way for a hudred years.  The person who retaliates in school gets in trouble while the bully walks away scott-free.  What I want is, as fans, for this whole process to simply move faster.  However Oregon is to be penalized, just do it now.  Get it over with. It’s better to know the final penalty and begin the healing process if necessary, than to wait forever in the dark.

Two years is about 18 months too long, if you ask me.  I want to enjoy seeing Thomas Tyner run wild.  I want to be dazzled by a De’Anthony run, and marvel at the latest Mariota throw, but I want to do it knowing what’s coming.  If there is no bowl, I want to know. If there is, I want to know.

To the NCAA, I say to you: Hurry.  Just give it to us.  Good or bad, as fans who make the NCAA billions of dollars, we deserve to know.

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Joel Gunderson

Joel Gunderson

Joel Gunderson grew up in a small town, where the only thing he did for fun was worship the Oregon Ducks. He later moved to Eugene, where he studied journalism at the U of O. After working in radio, he married the woman of his dreams and settled down. Joel now spends his days studying Journalism and the fine world of grammar, all the while worshiping the ground that Charles "Chip" Kelly walks on! Follow him on twitter @gundy85

  • hokieduck

    Excellent post, Joel. My sentiments exactly. There is a reason we have a Constitutional right to have a Speedy Trial when we are accused by the government of committing a crime. That reason is that time erodes the ability to effectively defend oneself against accusations. Witnesses leave or die or just forget things. And, as you note in this instance, while the program is what is ostensibly being penalized, nonetheless, the kids and fans are too. And these kids and fans did nothing wrong.

    If the NCAA cannot get its act together in the space of one year to even give a notice of allegations, for crying out loud, then the actions being investigated must not be that egregious. Especially now that we see the NCAA being called out (and maybe sued) for lacking institutional control of its investigative processes, the need for policing the police seems more acute.

    There needs to be some kind of Statute of Limitations in the NCAA investigative process.

  • hoboduck

    I mostly agree with the exception…..

    In the “What If” portion of your article, you said, “Sports teams, their front offices and the locker rooms, are dirty, viral places. They’re shady, manipulative, and down right shrewd.”

    In my opinion you left out the NCAA. I can not help but believe, that the above decribes the NCAA to a tee. Money under the table is the norm.

    Just sayin’

    Go Ducks WTD