The following post is sponsored by Glass Houses Inc., which reminds all customers to refrain from throwing stones.
That includes you, Dennis Thomas.
Commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and a former athletic director at Hampton University, Thomas serves in the thankless role as chairman of the NCAA Committee on Infractions. As profiled by Comrade Fairbank last month, he is a bright, affable chap filled with good intentions.
Thomas recently started a foodfight with Kentucky basketball, a tempting and occasionally deserving target. But this cause diminishes not only the Wildcats, but also the NCAA and Thomas.
Here’s a link to the War and Peace-length letters between the parties.
Here’s the gist: Previous NCAA sanctions against Massachusetts and Memphis dictated that those schools vacate 42 basketball victories, all of which came under current Kentucky coach John Calipari. Yet Calipari’s record on the Wildcats’ website credited him with those wins.
Moreover, after Calipari’s team defeated Florida last season, Kentucky honored him publicly for his 500th career victory. The school emailed the NCAA ahead of time about the ceremony, but on a Saturday, less than one hour before the presentation.
Talk about disingenuous.
Thomas and company were not amused, and essentially demanded a public mea culpa from Kentucky, which, understanding where all the aces lay in this poker game, complied last week.
That sent the Wildcats’ devoted (twisted?) fans on an Internet search, and their findings are revealing.
Here's a column by the Lexington Herald-Leader's John Clay on the subject.
Seems that many schools include vacated wins in their record books, media guides and coaches’ biographies. And three of the offenders fans unearthed are members of Thomas’ MEAC: Florida A&M, Morgan State and Savannah State.
But Kentucky faithful missed the most glaring.
MEAC member Hampton, where Thomas served as athletic director from 1990-2002.
Less than a year into Thomas’ HU tenure, the NCAA sanctioned the Pirates for lack of institutional control and for using an ineligible football player in 1986 and two in 1987. Per HU president William Harvey’s recommendation, the NCAA ordered the Pirates to forfeit their 12 football victories from 1986 and ’87.
Yet page 143 of HU’s 2010 media guide, lists the Pirates’ records for those seasons as 3-6-1 and 9-3 with no mention of the NCAA sanctions.
This is not a one-time oversight. HU’s 2009 media guide includes the same records, as does 2006 and 2004, the oldest guide I could unearth in our office. The guides also list then-coach Fred Freeman’s eight-year record as 49-31-4, again not reflecting the 12 forfeits.
Look, this is not to play gotcha. Yes, HU should correct its media guide for 2011, as should other schools who conveniently or mistakenly don’t acknowledge NCAA sanctions that affect records.
But the NCAA case against HU is 20 years old, and the Pirates have not been cited since, even as they upgraded from Division II to Division I and encountered the temptations that so many can’t resist.
HU athletic director Lonza Hardy, through a spokesman, said Wednesday he was unaware of the media guide issue and needed to research it. Perfectly plausible and understandable.
That said, the entire back-and-forth between Thomas — he was traveling and unavailable for comment Wednesday — and Kentucky was petty and unnecessary. Plus, it spotlights the senselessness of the NCAA vacating wins.
The NCAA enforcement staff has far more important matters to police than the veracity of media guides. But before calling out Kentucky, Thomas should have inspected his own house.
Now he needs to make sure that house gets cleaned.