Tom Izzo will take his suspension, but his press conference was that of an angry man.  Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

Tom Izzo will take his suspension, but his press conference was that of an angry man. Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

 

Izzo said it bluntly, but for those of us that know him well his expressions and body language told the story.  He said, “It’s my fault.”  He’s right, but only if your playing golf with a green that is moving.

 

The NCAA suspended Tom Izzo for one game, today against Prairie View A& M.   Mark Montgomery will take over the coaching duties.  The reason he was suspended is because a focus group had recommended changes to the NCAA about Individuals Associated With a Prospect.  They are better known as IAWP.

During a basketball camp last June Izzo hired many basketball people to come in and work his camp from the 18th to the 23rd.  They were ALL paid $475 to work essentially four and a half days.

The reason the rule was even being explored by the NCAA was because of schools (not MSU) that have been known to stretch the rules would bring in handlers and other IAWP and pay them thousands for a half day/one day camp. 

It is imperative to recognize that this floating of the green infraction is because NO ONE has ever been suspended for a secondary violation in the NCAA’s tarnished past.  Coaches with rap sheets of violations simply move to new schools or continue their blatant cheating ways with no punishment at all while Izzo who has never been even remotely implicated sits out.  The NCAA changed the rules, but left open vast gaps of interpretation and perspective.

So coaches are supposed to hit for a green that is moving?  Really?  Izzo made it clear that if his suspension cleans the game up, then great, but the implication was clear.  You better start going after the culprits.

I admit that Izzo has stated before in press conferences how this or that guy is a great friend.  Guys that we certainly have a given hints that they are blatant cheaters.  Some of us in the media chuckle when we hear it.  He is being politically correct, but he needs to start hitting back.

I asked two questions that I already knew the answers to: Were you turned in by another program/individual or by yourself?  My other question was did the focus group have all bureaucrats on the committee or were there ANY basketball people on the panel?

MSU said they had no idea how the NCAA found out; a smart move considering the temperature of the room was so hot.  It is most likely (read into this that we are exploring leads to report) that one or possibly two coaches from outside the state of Michigan used influence with an individual to perpetuate the issue with the NCAA.

 

The second question I asked was about bureaucrats.  The NCAA is infamous for using non-sports people to make sports decisions.  In the past, Izzo and many others have asked why can’t the NCAA use people like Bob Knight, Dean Smith, Jud and others who fundamentally understand the game to have input so that the NCAA can have some semblance of reality.  Of course, things that make sense and are logical don’t often work in a bureaucracy like the NCAA.

 

It was loaded with bureaucrats, and sadly, Izzo paid for it.  They saw a chance to get the President of the NABC and someone with a squeaky-clean reputation and make a statement.  Unfortunately for Izzo, he was that guy.

 

The NCAA is already nothing short of a hypocrite for having given the death penalty to SMU while schools that bring in much bigger dollars to their coffers get wrist slaps.  It isn’t a secret around the country to hear things like Alabama in football or Kentucky (or any other school Calipari has coached) has issues so Prairie View is going to get slammed. 

 

The rule was broken.  Izzo manned up.  The punishment is absurd.  That is why I applaud Izzo for throwing it back in the face of the NCAA and serving it against a team that they will roll.  For Izzo, however, this will follow him forever.  It will grind him forever.  It is precisely these floating greens that he constantly refers to with the NCAA and their pathetic, uneducated, and ridiculous rules that constantly push him to look outside the college game.

 

I sat with him for an interview earlier this year and we talked about the game becoming more about off court things than on.  He agreed when he said, “I don’t get to just be a coach anymore and it takes a lot of the fun out of it for me.  I still love practice and on the court, it is the other stuff that bothers me.”

 

I have no issues with the normal punishment of a secondary violation being handed out.  With Izzo taking it like a man now, he throws it in the face of the NCAA by sitting out what is already a meaningless game.  I have a problem with college basketball and the cesspool that it is.  Someone with a reputation as clean as Mother Theresa gets jail time over jay walking while people who slither into the gym are skirting the rules and getting off on technicalities.

 

Izzo said it, “I am responsible.”  Sad that the hypocritical, in my opinion corrupt, and ignorance of the NCAA never is.

 

I wonder whom Kentucky will be playing in basketball?  Has Calipari ever been suspended or that program given the death sentence?  How many times have each of them been caught?  I wonder, now that they are married, how long until they get caught for something new?  How about Alabama in football?  How many times on probation?  I wonder if they get a Christmas card from SMU?

 

I guess if we need someone to interpret the rules we should get a committee with Coach Cal and Cam Newton on the group.

 

Coach Izzo was wrong and manned up and paid the price.  Hollis manned up and took the punishment.  Both could have said more.  Frankly, it would have been nice to see them turn loose and punch back.  The NCAA has gotten too big and powerful to do that.  It would have hurt MSU and they showed restraint.  Sadly, the NCAA hasn’t.