- The Washington Times - Monday, July 7, 2003

Contrary to an impressive number of claims in the national press, the sky did not fall after the ACC concluded its unscrupulous business with the Big East last week.

It was merely big business as usual in major college athletics, as big business has evolved under the wretched leadership of the NCAA.

The objection of the heretofore true believers is remarkable. They have come to their outrage late in the high-stakes game.

There should be no illusions by now. We know the score. We know the game.

The character-building principle died with Len Bias for those of a certain age, the line of what is acceptable obliterated long before the ACC higher-ups took a special interest in the Big East.

University presidents compromised their education mission in pursuit of the athletic dollar a long time ago.

They should not even be in the athletic business, best managed by the NFL and NBA with above-the-table payments.

The evidence against the two major college sports has become so compelling and overwhelming that the ACC’s corporate shenanigans with the Big East are barely worthy of contempt.

There are all kinds of moral wrongs with a system that pretends to be saving dummies from a lifetime of blue-collar work, as if there is something intrinsically wrong with blue-collar work, as if charging $90 to change a fuse in an air conditioner is somehow inadequate compensation for five minutes of labor.

This is a system that employs academic advisors to complete the classroom work of the dummies. This is a system that lavishes great rewards on those slick-talking, slick-haired types who profess to be doing highly important social work. This is a system that majors in hypocrisy and minors in corruption.

Yet, to hear the true believers tell it in recent weeks, the ACC has descended to a new low, impossible as that is.

The big business wing of the NCAA already is as low as it gets. It stands for nothing, except television revenue, arcane rules and a misguided devotion to amateurism, which is a polite form of indentured servitude.

Donna Shalala, to name one of the winners of the ACC-Big East affair, labored within the parameters of this despicable system. She did not invent the system. She made a deal, simple as that, after playing both ends.

The fallout, in a way, is reminiscent of the moral indignation of the New York Times after Martha Burk put the male-only Augusta National Golf Club on notice last year.

Until then, the extreme-left newspaper had not noticed the membership policies of Augusta National.

Then, thanks to Burk’s investigation, the far-left organ, thinking in a self-serving prism, urged Tiger Woods to boycott the Masters because of the message it would convey.

Of course, the sister publication of the Nation magazine never would think of practicing what it was preaching to Woods. It never could pass on its sleep-inducing coverage of the Masters, amusing as that sacrifice might be, considering the wire-copy writing style of its staff is indistinguishable from the genuine stuff.

A lack of genuine conviction seems to be in play in the ACC-Big East two-step as well.

The moralists are not about to step away from the BCS in the fall. No, they will be there to chronicle all its warts and tell you which college football team is the best of the best and which college football teams deserve to be in which bowls, while ignoring the reprehensible essence of it all.

They will do it all over again in the winter with basketball. They will do their part to feed the beast, pumping up a toxic system, fulfilling an important function.

As Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently pointed out to members of the APSE, most business operations can only dream of the free advertising granted to sports entities, pro and college alike.

Even bad publicity, as long as it pertains to wins and losses, is good publicity, Jones said.

A certain stench emanated from the ACC’s pursuit of the Big East’s football gems, no doubt.

As far as messes go, however, it was just one relatively minor contribution to the NCAA’s massive waste-treatment plant.

To be honest, the lawyerly spun ordeal was a whole lot less offensive than many of the incidents perpetrated by the future felons of America in school colors.

Johnny may be not able to read all that well, but he sure can break tackles.

Go, Johnny, go.

Johnny is saving lives, keeping hope alive and helping the fat cats stay fat.

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