Brace yourselves, Miami, this will shock you: The NCAA rule book is a joke.
The latest evidence comes via King James himself. This past weekend, the Ohio State Buckeyes football team arrived at their hotel rooms to find $300 Beats by Dre headphones nestled atop each of their pillows like mints, compliments of LeBron James -- because apparently that's allowed. According to the Plain Dealer, the gift-not-from-LeBron-but-from-the-magic-Beats-fairy is totally within the rules because "the headphones were donated to Ohio State and were distributed within the permissible NCAA limitations ($400 in this case) on awards."
Oh, they were "donated" -- in that case, nothing to see here. Headphones for all! As long as they don't cost more than $400! Then just kidding!
— Urban Meyer (@OSUCoachMeyer) January 10, 2015
Per NCAA rules, any team that makes a championship game is allowed to give its players gifts worth $400, and the winning team can give an additional $415 in gifts to its players. Sorry, but when did every kid playing college football agree to be on a game show? What is this, Who Wants to Be a Hundredaire?
So let's get this straight -- if you suck, you get nothing. On the other hand, if you're good at what you do and succeed, it's OK to be rewarded, but not too much. That sounds a lot like a job. Who makes up these dollar amounts, anyway? This sounds a lot like an allowance or your mom telling you it's OK to have some candy, just not too much.
Reading further into the NCAA rule book reveals that determining whether a gift is OK or not OK is based upon the item's wholesale value, not its retail value, which further muddies the waters. Retail like Walmart? Or retail like Best Buy? Again, we are talking about the same institution that says a "student-athlete" is not allowed to write his own name with a Sharpie marker on his own shirt and then see if anyone on eBay wants to pay him for it -- something you and I would stay up all night doing if at all possible -- but because these kids get college algebra free, it's not allowed.
The LeBron controversy is especially relevant in Miami, and not just because the ex-king of AA Arena is at the center of it.
The University of Miami is still stinging from the years of investigations, self-imposed penalties, and sanctions for NCAA "violations" tied to the Nevin Shapiro scandal. Free drinks, food, admission to clubs, and other inconsequential items and benefits from the Ponzi schemer were deemed to have been against the NCAA's pact with schools. But based on this LeBron news, it seems that if the Canes had received those gifts through, say, Dwyane Wade, it would have been totally cool. That's complete horseshit.
Yes, for years players have been given gifts at bowl games. Some of those freebies have even included shopping sprees at places like Best Buy, and that's great -- it's just nauseating watching the NCAA decide when it's OK and not OK for someone to give something to a kid, depending upon just how much money said kid is making for what amount to his owners.
It's also increasingly apparent the University of Miami is dealing with its hell-of-a-black-cloud until 2016 only because it got caught and because the gift-giver was -- admittedly -- a scumball Ponzi schemer, not LBJ.
This year, the NCAA has taken your mind off just how corrupt and terrible it is by distracting you with its new bowl-playoff system. It pounded you with ESPN's hourlong hot-take shows that got you talking and embracing debate all week. The NCAA increased the interest in its game, made itself a boatload more money, and has its showcase game tonight that is sure to break viewing records. Make no mistake, however, the NCAA is still the worst thing going in sports.
In the meantime, good luck figuring out what's OK and not OK for players to do; everyone is confused.
Does anyone else think the NCAA just makes up shit as they go lol so LeBron gave headphones away to OSU nothing but you sign something NOOO
— Don (@dbeebe23) January 11, 2015
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According to the http://t.co/QuxyXjNAbI, LeBron "worked w/" NCAA. Which seems like fancy way of saying, "NCAA would never say no to LeBron."
— Ebenezer Samuel (@ebenezersamuel) January 11, 2015
If some random booster gave Ohio State players gifts you know the NCAA would be all over it. But LeBron can do it cause he's LeBron lol
— Anthony Hartwig ♿ (@AHartwig01) January 11, 2015