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Monday December 4, 2000

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Hey, ho, NCAA has got to go!

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By Bryan Rosenbaum

Arizona Daily Wildcat

I can just imagine Bill Walton's reaction when he heard the NCAA had suspended Richard Jefferson for one game.

"Outrageous! Ludicrous! Horrible!"

The NCAA and college sports, to put it in Walton-speak, are like Chris Childs and the New York Knicks - it isn't the worst relationship ever, but they could sure do a lot better.

With the NCAA cracking down on such minor violations as accepting a plane ticket home from your best friend and teammate's father, who happens to be a millionaire, basketball players are being driven out of college basketball and into the NBA.

Ironically, many of them end up flaundering for Walton's beloved Los Angeles Clippers.

For a huge basketball fan such as myself, it's disappointing to see so many players leaving early for the NBA Draft or skipping college all together, but the communist organization known as the NCAA keeps shooting itself in the foot because of its minor, ridiculous rules it enforces. And they wonder why so many players, such as Jefferson, think every year spent in college is one too many.

There has got to be an easier and more effective way for the NCAA to handle the recent rash of legislation. Loren Woods and Jefferson should be allowed to pay back the money they owe, either out of their own pocket, through a summer job or community service. This way, the players are penalized in a more meaningful way than having to sit out a game against St. Mary's.

UA head coach Lute Olson says the NCAA should scrap the rulebook and start with common sense as the No. 1 rule. This would better enable schools and players to determine what is wrong - accepting money from an agent - and what is right - accepting money from a close friend or family member.

The way the NCAA handled Michigan's Jamal Crawford, who saw his best friend killed in Compton, Calif. and then moved to a family friend's house in Seattle, a year ago was despicable. Of course, by doing so, Crawford broke the rules because he accepted from a Seattle businessman, Barry Henthorn, and was suspended for the rest of the season.

Had it not been for Henthorn, the man that saved Crawford from the streets, Crawford might have been the next person murdered at a Compton bus stop.

I'm not saying this was a clean, legal and the right thing to do, but if this story was about anybody else, you would be praising this 'booster' as a hero, a person who saved another human being from a wretched life.

As it is, he was helping an athlete, and the rest of that athlete's life will never be the same.

The NCAA doesn't seem to care about the plane ticket Bill Walton bought Luke Walton's girlfriend, does it? Of course not.

It's not such a far-fetched idea that the major Division I schools will leave the NCAA soon because the situation has become so bad.

The sagas involving Jefferson and Woods are only the tip of the iceberg, and it's only a matter of time before one more anonymous tipster drives all of college basketball crazy.

The NCAA not only needs to have a heart when it comes to enforcing its laws, it needs to develop some sort of brain to go with their inflated, all-conquering egos.