Gonzaga BYU Basketball

BYU's Yoeli Childs, left, Nick Emery, center, and Rylan Bergersen, right, sit on the bench during the final minutes of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Gonzaga on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

BYU basketball has taken a hard hit — an NCAA-chucking-a-basketball-straight-at-your-face type of hit. And it’ll be a rough recovery.

On Wednesday, the NCAA ruled against an appeal from the Cougar team, upholding a slew of penalties for infractions by boosters. And if that weren’t rough enough, Yoeli Childs, arguably BYU’s top starter, was suspended by the NCAA about a month ago for the first nine games of the upcoming season for a simple paperwork filing error. The whole situation is incredibly ridiculous, in this Editorial Board’s opinion (as well as our sports team’s opinions, who also weighed in on this editorial).

Nobody in the Herald’s sports department really believed BYU’s appeal to the NCAA about the sanctions would do anything. In fact, when they heard the news on Wednesday that the appeal was rejected, they responded nonchalantly and went on with their workday.

We think everyone can agree that the whole messy situation of several boosters providing former player Nick Emery thousands of dollars in various complementary goods and cash was a big no-no. And we can agree that Emery deserved some sort of punishment for those actions — but that’s just the point. Emery deserved the punishment, not the entire team, and definitely not Coach Rose, who consequently took a devastating 47-victory loss to his coaching record.

If we are to believe the team’s claims, they had absolutely no idea of what was going on. The NCAA should have dealt the punishment on the individual player, not an entire team who was innocently unaware. But that’s the problem with the NCAA — they can’t be everywhere at once, so when they do catch a team or player’s wrongdoing, they hit them hard to make them an example to the rest of the college basketball world. Consequently, the NCAA deals out punishments (or doesn’t at all) in a highly inconsistent manner.

Take, for example, Mississippi State and the recent tutor scandal. A former MSU athletics department tutor took exams and completed assignments for 10 Bulldog football players and one men’s basketball player in an online course during the 2018-19 fall semester.

Consequently, the team was hit with a lengthy list of sanctions, but they seem to roughly add up to the same severity or smaller in severity for 11 players’ mistakes to BYU’s recent sanctions for a single player’s mistake. MSU was fined $5,000. BYU? The same. MSU was also penalized with a vacation of records, a required rules education session for all involved student-athletes, a reduction of one men’s basketball scholarship for one academic year, and so on, all of which mirror BYU’s sanctions.

And in the case of Arizona head coach Sean Miller reportedly paying his top player $10,000 a month, the NCAA has yet to speak up or impose any sanctions. And Arizona has enjoyed plenty of recruiting success since the bombshell investigation came to light.

Not to mention the many sexual assault cases in the college sports world that the NCAA surprisingly held back when doling out punishments. You would think that sexual abuse would warrant harsher consequences than cases of misfiled paperwork or even illegal payments to players, but the NCAA is so far from consistent in its sanctions on a case-by-case basis that it’s hard to see a clear pattern in levels of severity.

And because the NCAA is trigger-happy with pushing the punishment button automatically when rule-breaking comes to light, the teams and individual players do not have any chance of learning a lesson from their mistakes or getting rehabilitation.

We agree with the statement BYU came out with Wednesday claiming the sanctions are “unprecedented.” We all wracked our brains for a past example of a team getting hit so harshly for something so small, and couldn’t think of one.

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