It’s long been known that the NCAA’s investigation into Auburn in regards to the recruitment of Cam Newton — and ostensibly their recruiting practices as a whole — is still ongoing and has yet to be completed, so the report from Pete Thamel of the New York Times that the investigation is open doesn’t exactly plow new ground.
However, there was an interesting exchange recently involving the school’s head football coach and an NCAA official regarding the open-ended nature of the probe that’s mentioned in the piece and worth noting.
At the annual SEC meeting last month in Destin, Fla., each of the conference’s head football and basketball coaches, as well as every athletic director, was in attendance for a presentation by Julie Roe Lach, the NCAA’s vice president of enforcement. Following Roe Lach’s presentation, a testy exchange ensued between the NCAA official and Gene Chizik when the floor was opened for questions, an exchange that was corroborated by at least three SEC hoops coaches in on-the-record comments to Thamel.
…When she opened up the room for discussion, Auburn’s football coach, Gene Chizik, raised his hand first.
He peppered Roe Lach with a flurry of questions about the N.C.A.A.’s investigation into Cam Newton and why the N.C.A.A. had not publicly announced that the investigation was over. Chizik complained that the inquiry’s open-ended nature had hurt Auburn’s recruiting and he followed up at least three times, leading to a testy exchange.
“You’ll know when we’re finished,” Roe Lach told Chizik, according to several coaches who were at the meeting. “And we’re not finished.”
[/Roe Lach slamming MacBook Pro shut, flexing]
The exchange between Roe Lach and Chizik certainly caught the attention of those in attendance.
“Obviously, I think that she was serious, and I obviously thought it was a good message, because you could tell that she and they are serious about what they’re doing and trying to do what they have to do to clean up some of the bad elements in college athletics,” Vanderbilt hoops coach Kevin Stallings told the Times.
“It was obvious they were trying to be thorough. It was obvious they wanted everyone to know that there’s a more diligent pursuit than there’s been in the past. The staff is bigger and more aggressive. I thought that her message was a good one.”
We understand why Chizik and the Auburn football program would want the book closed on this situation sooner rather than later so they can get on with their recruiting lives, but the best way to accomplish that might not be to challenge of the the top dogs in NCAA enforcement in front of a large group of people.
As the NCAA proved with the years-long Reggie Bush/USC case, they’ll take as long as they damn well please, regardless of the amount of public and private criticism — and private criticism that becomes public — that’s lobbed their way.