Tom Sorensen

NCAA ruling on UNC case leaves me with an idea for justice

The NCAA as judge and jury could work out in my favor, should I ever need it, if the UNC case is any indication.
The NCAA as judge and jury could work out in my favor, should I ever need it, if the UNC case is any indication. AP

I don’t plan to commit a major crime. But if I do, I want the NCAA to lead the investigation.

The touchdown Austin Seferian-Jenkins scored for the New York Jets against New England Sunday reminded me of justice NCAA style. The letter of the NFL law says that Seferian-Jenkins needed to control the ball as he reached the pylon. And he did juggle the ball. We saw him. And then he collected it. We saw that, too. And when he reached the end zone he controlled the ball. The pass he caught from (Charlotte’s own) quarterback Josh McCown was valid. Seferian-Jenkins scored.

But what constitutes a catch and a touchdown and a touchdown catch in 2017 is lost in the league’s vague and cumbersome language. Officials were lost. The Jets lost, too.

Instead of accuracy and justice becoming the end, language did. Which brings us back to the NCAA and the major crime I committed.

NCAA: You, sir, like North Carolina, are guilty and unethical, and we hope you feel deep shame. But we’ve designed our rules so that you can hide behind them. We really can’t do anything. That’s not our mission.

ME: What’s your mission?

NCAA: Our mission is this. If you accept a T-shirt that you do not pay for, a shirt that is not available to non-athletes, our enforcement staff, which has a lot of free time, will pursue you. You think you can hide? You can’t hide. You think you won’t pay? You will pay. Alcatraz is out of business. Leavenworth is not.

ME: No shirts. Got it.

NCAA: But we have a favor to ask. We know how bad our decision to let you walk, like our decision to let North Carolina walk, will make us look. So please don’t act as if you won something. Please don’t be sanctimonious.

ME: Sure.

NCAA: The following is for North Carolina. If any of your ACC brethren commit a minor infraction, and next to yours all infractions will be minor, don’t act as if you’re better than they are. The moral superiority you have long assumed no longer applies. We have seen the Carolina Way.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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