Southern University defeated Champion Baptist College last night in Baton Rouge by the pedestrian score of 116-12. It could have been worse; the Jaguars led the Tigers 44-0 until CBC made a free throw with 5:10 remaining in the first half. The entire thing was a farce, but according to the NCAA it's an official game; the 44-0 run is a new record.
It's astonishing how terrible Champion Baptist College was. They shot only 6.8 percent from the field (3-44) and only 29.4 percent from the line (5-17). They committed 27 turnovers and 20 personal fouls, while allowing 26 offensive rebounds. That's not surprising, given they only had two players taller than 6'1" (and those guys were 6'3" and 6'4").
(Don't confuse Southern for some juggernaut. They might be the best team in the SWAC—they did earn the league auto-bid last year—but the SWAC is the worst conference in Division I and has been for five years.)
And who is Champion Baptist College? Good question. The Tigers hail from the Association of Christian College Athletics, a sanctioning organization roughly seven tiers below the NCAA Division I. Most ACCA schools feature "Bible" in their name, and almost none of them is regionally accredited. Champion Baptist has existed for eight years and has 205 students. They're also recruiting ... you.
The ACCA has no clearinghouse for eligibility like you'll find in the NCAA, and no system to guarantee players haven't, you know, spent time in the NBA or something. Indeed, the only eligibility documents available from the ACCA are in regard to their policies for the schools themselves. Here are some actual questions the ACCA asks of its member schools:
1. What stand does your college take concerning drugs, alcohol, tobacco, abusive language (taking God's name in vain) etc.?
2. What are the spiritual requirements for membership on your faculty or administration?
3. What is your policy on the recruitment of Christian and non-Christian athletes?
4. What are the spiritual considerations involved in the hiring of the members on the athletic staff?
Organizations like the ACCA sponsor schools who play a very different version of basketball from the kind found in the NCAA's Division I, and yet the games count. (No, they don't count in the RPI—the system the NCAA uses as guidance for its at-large tournament bids—but they count in the record book.) And this might just be pearl-clutching if not for the practice of Division I teams playing bizarre, unaccredited pseudo-schools becoming a recent trend.
This past weekend, St. Katherine College of San Diego played two top-level NCAA Division I schools in 17 hours. While St. Katherine is an NAIA member—a sanctioning organization several degrees above the ACCA—it's also a new member. Like, brand new. This is its first season playing basketball, and the entire college has only 102 students. St. Katherine's growth plan (this is only its fourth year offering classes, and the college is unaccredited) seems to be based on NCAA Division I basketball payouts. So far this year, the Firebirds have lost to Utah Valley by 52, Weber State by 71, San Diego State by 83, and Utah by 73. (Those last two games were on back-to-back nights.) Here's some video so you can see exactly how horrendous St. Katherine is; realize the big man is a 34-year-old the coach found in a San Diego fitness club.
Champion Baptist, too, has racked up the D-I opponents. In addition to its slaughter last night in Baton Rouge, it's also earned beatdowns from Southeast Louisiana, Mississippi Valley State, and New Orleans. (Their closest of those was a 54-point loss.)
For sure, some of those teams (including Southern) struggle to find out-of-conference home games. (MVSU's November game against Champion Baptist was its first home non-conference game in four years.) But there's a wealth of D-III and NAIA teams that could pose a better and more competitive game that would still be an easy win.
SDSU and Utah have still fewer excuses. Frankly, they could have each scheduled games against Utah Valley and Weber State and paid out more to those schools than UVU or Weber State pulled at the gate for their own home games against St. Katherine. But, then, those mid-major coaches would likely end up with a loss on the books, and not the easy "W" their completely illegitimate games against St. Katherine afforded them.
Illegitimate, of course, in the eyes of any basketball fan. Completely legitimate in the eyes of the NCAA, an organization that pays lip service to academics while sanctioning official contests between its member colleges and pseudo-schools propping up their status (or some vague religious mission) with paycheck games played by mercenary athletes. The NCAA's rules for what constitutes a legal opponent are shockingly brief: If a school offers a four-year degree and plays the majority of its games against U.S.-based college varsity teams, it counts as a legal opponent for a Division I basketball team.
Want to make some money? Start a divinity school offering a Bachelor of Theology degree in Pastafarian Studies, and round up some buddies. Troll the coaching forums or hang out at the Final Four, tell coaches you're the USM Noodly Appendages head coach, and you've got an open date on some Saturday in November. Book the game, show up, lose by 100, and cash your $50,000 check. Hell, I'd buy one of your jerseys, too.
As long as the NCAA continues to consider these Globetrotter-like exhibitions official games, athletic departments will continue to schedule them. Players will bolster their statistics, coaches their winning percentages and yearly bonuses. And all on the backs of competitions between two teams that play very, very different games.