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NCAA does something good for SIU
For one second today, resist the urge to say what you really think of it, and give the NCAA its due.
The organization took a lot of heat in the last year, most of it warranted, but really took the high road when it approved a unique fundraiser for Southern Illinois University. The Salukis got the OK to take bids from the public to have their names printed on the backs of 80 SIU football jerseys in their game against Eastern Illinois on Nov. 12. All the proceeds will go toward cancer research and prevention efforts in the region.
The event, called Black Out Cancer, will be a never-before-tried fundraiser that may never be repeated again.
The NCAA typically frowns upon the words “bidding” and “regular-season football game” in the same waiver request, for obvious reasons, as the organization is dedicated to preserving the amateur status of collegiate athletes. Regardless of your opinion of why its does that, or how it does that, the NCAA deserves some credit for looking past the rule book, and applying real-life consequences toward a unique situation. It would have been very easy to just say no.
In fact, most thought it would, for good reason.
“When (Mike McElroy) presented it at first, I thought there was no way this was going to happen,” SIU football coach Dale Lennon said.
McElroy, who really spearheaded the project, said “there was not a lot of hope behind it.”
“They told me this program story, and I remember, and I remember thinking in my head ‘Yeah, there’s no way that’s going to happen,’” SIU Athletic Director Mario Moccia said.
With troubles at Ohio State, Georgia Tech, the Fiesta Bowl and Boise State, among others, the NCAA probably didn’t have a lot of patience for any stretching of existing policies or asking for exemptions. The fact SIU, and the Football Championship Subdivision as a whole, has avoided such sanctions, or accusations of sanctions, may have played a part in its thought process.
Here’s the other thing. People are one of two things. They either believe the world is a beautiful place, and that there is an opportunity to do some good, or they believe the world is out to get them, and nothing positive will come from even the most concerted effort.
As imperfect as it is, for today only, the NCAA deserves some credit for thinking about the potential good in college athletics.
BY TODD HEFFERMAN, The Southern Illinoisan