Race and the N.C.A.A.
By JOE NOCERA
... Three of the most high-profile eligibility cases this basketball season — Muhammad, Nerlens Noel at Kentucky and Rodney Purvis at North Carolina State — are African-American. Five Ohio State football players who were suspended for trading some of their Ohio State gear for tattoos in 2010 were African-American. Ditto the 14 North Carolina football players who got embroiled in a scandal two years ago.
When I asked Stacey Osburn at the N.C.A.A. whether white players ever had such problems with the N.C.A.A., she insisted they did. Yet somehow, the high-profile cases almost always seem to involve blacks.
Could it be that the N.C.A.A. rules are inherently discriminatory, or that its investigators are primed to think the worst of talented black football and basketball players, even before an inquiry?
Nah. Must just be a coincidence.
I published an op-ed in 1991 calling for the end of amateurism in big time college sports, that offered an ethnic analysis of amateurism: basically, it's an idea that appealed to the English upper classes and not to too many others. I like the Scottish approach, as implemented in golf over the last 150 years: professionalism is fine, but amateurs get their own playpen.
You could make a race-based case against college sports amateurism: assume that people with IQs of 85 or lower won't get anything out of being on a college campus. That's only 1 out of 6 whites, which isn't a huge fraction. But, it's 1 out of 2 blacks, which is. It's not right to make being smart enough for college a bottleneck for such a large fraction of top athletes.
But, I suspect that thought has never ever occurred to Joe Nocera.