The Indiana Hoosiers have offered more scholarships than they actually have. This is not a first-time offense for Tom Crean and the university, either. This is the second straight year in which Crean will have to pull a scholarship from a player already on his team to make room for a new, likely better athlete.
Crean might be abusing the rule, but he isn’t breaking any. The NCAA allows coaches to do these type of things because players are technically on four one-year scholarships, meaning that a university could pull a scholarship from a player after each of any of his seasons is done — essentially telling the world why we don’t pay the players we treat them as professionals.
The argument on behalf of letting schools offer extra scholarships is the fluidity of rosters. Athletes transferring or going pro early would end up living the program behind the eight-ball, which is true in its simplest terms, but the idea of overusing the scholarships at the expense of a kid’s education and future has somehow gotten away from its actual intent.
Let me make this clear: Crean nor Indiana are doing anything illegal — although, it could be argued what they are doing is morally wrong. Hiding behind the fact that a kid or two may declare early entry in the draft so they can pull scholarships from players who are not in the rotation, in turn making a new scholarship available for a “better” player, is almost a direct spit in the face of the word amateurism.
If the kid’s grades are bad or he is behaving badly around campus, fine; but to take away his scholarship because the coach did not do a good enough job evaluating him? That feels more like free agency and cutting player in the pros.
Still, the NCAA idly sits on the sidelines. They do not care that schools are letting kids wallow in uncertainty after each season is over. It is not their job to protect student-athletes from coachs’ insane need to be successful and satisfy a fanbase (actually, when the NCAA was formed, protecting kids was their primary goal).
Google Crean or Indiana and you will see a slew of writers talking about how smart the coach is for over signing players. How, bringing in more kids than he can have — which ultimately results in another kid losing his free-schooling — is great for the program.
What about the kids, though. Really, what about the kids?
Are we just going to continue to treat student-athletes as professionals in everything they do, but make sure they do not profit in a system where they cannot transfer without certain schools being blocked? Can we keep exploiting them for fandom reasons while they can lose their scholarships because a coach finds a better player?
Will the NCAA keep staring blankly at kids being exploited for financial gain while they starve or are having a hard time adjusting to life as a young-adult?
Of course that is all going to continue. Because we all care more about our team’s success than some kid we never met. The NCAA has lost its ideals of protecting kids from the evils of the world and has replaced it with exploiting them for as much profit as possible.
Who can blame the coaches for taking advantage of a broken system? Not myself. This is an NCAA problem: the kind in which will never get fixed because it helps the universities who have all the power, and abuses the student-athletes — who have none and are constantly told they should be happy just to be there.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone