Yahoo's Righteous Crusade To Purify College SportsS

Yahoo, as noted earlier, has another story out in its long-running series on the generous redistributive polices of the USC athletic department. I hate to go all Jason Whitlock here, but, well ...

... the man has a point. (Or had, briefly, until his frantic row-back a couple days later.) Yahoo has built a brand out of catching young athletes with their hand out, something that always makes for compelling reading but now seems more than a little misguided. If you find yourself writing story after story about NCAA rule after NCAA rule being broken, shouldn't there come a point where you question the wisdom and validity of those rules in the first place?

Yahoo came close a couple months ago, with an excellent story about Kevin Love and AAU coach Pat Barrett. But it wound up being more a standard indictment of greasebag agents and less an exploration of how screwy incentives — created by impossibly high-minded amateurism rules, not to mention the NBA's minimum-age rule (to which Yahoo at least alludes, to its credit) — have created a black market in which greasebag agents can thrive.

Yahoo's Dan Wetzel wrote to Whitlock after his initial column, which stupidly likened the "gotcha" recruiting stories to "1800s newspapers running pictures of and stories about runaway slaves." Wetzel took issue: "We do it to show that the problem is everywhere. That no one is immune. That the NCAA is doing nothing, and that the media are lazy by characterizing it any other way." I suppose Yahoo's reformer spirit is commendable, but this really does get the issue exactly wrong. The "problem" isn't everywhere. It's in one place. The NCAA charter. Where's that series?