John Feinstein: The NCAA's version of justice is puzzling

As Radford Coach Brad Greenberg learned, when it comes to the NCAA, doing good is doing bad.
As Radford Coach Brad Greenberg learned, when it comes to the NCAA, doing good is doing bad. (Streeter Lecka/getty Images)
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Saturday, March 5, 2011; 11:59 PM

To paraphrase Jerry Tarkanian's oft-repeated quote involving Kentucky and Cleveland State, the NCAA must be so mad at Connecticut Coach Jim Calhoun that Radford's Brad Greenberg is going to get suspended for four games.

In truth, the NCAA didn't punish Radford's coach (the brother of Virginia Tech Coach Seth Greenberg) because the school did it first, suspending Greenberg for the final four games of the season. According to the school's news release, Greenberg was suspended for breaking NCAA rules involving, "team travel and associated extra benefits."

Here is what Greenberg did: He took Masse Doumbe with him to road games Radford played during Thanksgiving break and Christmas break even though he was ineligible. The NCAA had barred Doumbe from playing in the first 21 games of the season because he had played on a French team the NCAA deemed professional because one player on the team (not Doumbe) was being paid. Greenberg didn't want to leave him alone on campus during the holidays, so he brought him with the team.

That was the impermissible travel.

The extra benefits? Meals, and a bed to sleep in.

Imagine what might have happened if he had bought the kid an ice cream cone after a team meal.

But this is justice in college sports, whether it is meted out by a school trying to show it can really crack down on itself or the NCAA suspending Calhoun for three games next season for violations involving illegal contact with recruits and, specifically, the actions of a former team manager who was involved in the recruitment of a player.

Calhoun, who was never one to duck a tough question, has been reduced to putting out garbled statements from some lawyer about how Calhoun takes full responsibility but really this is no big deal and let's move on because there's a tournament to be played.

There is no one better than the NCAA when it comes to self-righteousness and secrecy. The simplest question is often met with absolute astonishment that it would even be asked. Last month, during one of the NCAA basketball committee chairman's conference calls leading up to Selection Sunday, Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith was asked by the Kansas City Star's Blair Kerkhoff, "Gene, can you tell us how many teams would be on your 'absolutely in' list right now?"

Kerkhoff wasn't asking for any specifics, just a number.

Smith replied, "Oh come on Blair, you know I can't answer that question."

Smith was laughing so hard you might have thought Kerkhoff had asked him what Jared Sullinger is planning to major in when he's an Ohio State senior.

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