Thursday, May 19, 2005

"Put us on Probation"

Jacket fans are asking themselves - why would Dave Braine tell the NCAA to put us on probation? We are one of a handful of schools that has NEVER been on probation. Why on Earth would be ASK for it, when they haven't even finished their investigation? Don't be naive - he wouldn't have asked for it if that wasn't going to be the minimum punishment anyhow. It's all perception. If the NCAA comes in and agrees with the punishment, it appears that GT took the lead, ferreted out the problem and fixed it themselves (which may be true). If we just wait until the NCAA hands down their punishment - trust me - it looks worse (and we were the ones who found the problem and brought it to light)

But these "perceptions" are for the sidewalk followers, sports fans in general - those who get their sports news from the USA Today. It does little to temper the frustration and embarrassment of hardcore Jacket fans. We are not happy about this - none of us. And now the divide among fans over the state of the athletic program at the school comes to the forefront once again. It boils down to two groups - those that want to give AD D.Braine the benefit of the doubt, and those who don't (and never did). It's virtually the same group that argues over keeping Chan Gailey or getting a new football coach. It's the same group that says Danny Hall can't win in baseball in the post-season vs those who point to the overall program success.

One thing is fact - under Dave Braine, the entire athletic program has been elevated to a higher success rate - in both women's and men's sports. He has hired high character coaches who are bringing in high character kids, and we are winning more often. Along with that has come some not-so-nice things along the way - letters to alumni after embarrasing losses, flunkgate, this probation situation.

So what do you want? Personally, I think we just have to weather this storm, accept the inevitable criticism, understand that we can no longer "throw stones", since we now have a "record" - no matter how minor it might be. I think we need to continue to support Dave Braine, all of our coaches, and all of our players. So we screwed up. Just don't let it happen again. What's worse - not having procedures in place to properly interpret NCAA rules, or having 10-15 players a year getting arrested for bar fights, theft, domestic violence, etc? Would you rather be at South Carolina or Tennessee? The only difference is that when a player gets in trouble, the school can distance themselves, and fans can point to the player, not the school. In this case it reflects squarely on the school - and all of us. So voice your opinions, but support your team, support the players - and also realize that inflamatory debates can impact recruiting and opinions of young men and women considering GT.

No matter what your opinion on how to handle the situation, it's just plain disappointing and embarrassing for all of us.

So, how did all this get started? Well, we did make some boo-boo's and we do need to take our medicine. We used 17 ineligible athletes in various sports, thinking they were eligible. This was not knowledgable disregard for NCAA rules. This was a combination of poor oversight, poor internal follow-up and lack of procedural control aroiund exceedingly complex NCAA rules (that require staffs of people to figure out). Nobody in this situation was trying to break rules. They just didn't know it was happening. People misinterpreted rules, gave bad advice, and now we pay.

This will be the 2nd time in history that Georgia Tech was found guilty of "major infractions" (the other 1989 in men's tennis). Here is the recommended penalty from GT:

"......that Georgia Tech had proposed cutting four football scholarships each of the next two academic years, 3.9 men's track scholarships each of the next two academic years and 2.5 women's track scholarships each of the next two academic years. Track scholarships, unlike football and basketball scholarships, can be split among multiple athletes."

If the NCAA agrees, this will not impact our ability to play in any post-season events.





Now, this was after "flunkgate", which was not any NCAA violation, just a case of poor academic support for players......