The Oklahoman did some fun open-records spelunking and got ahold of some of the University of Oklahoma's self-reported NCAA rules violations. These are of the silly, picayune, "failure to hop on one foot 13 times while reciting the NCAA's mission statement in between texts to recruits" variety, including one that's about as silly and as picayune as any we've ever seen, and we're talking here about an organization that banned cream cheese.
Violation: Three current student-athletes received food in excess of NCAA regulation at a graduation banquet. The three had graduated from the school but returned for an additional season of competition. The players were provided pasta in excess of the permissible amount allowed. Resolution: The three were required to donate $3.83 each (the cost of the pasta serving) to a charity of their choice in order to be reinstated. The department provided rules education to applicable athletics department staff members.
There's much more. The scofflaws could be found in a variety of sports, from baseball to golf to volleyball to rowing. Here are the football and basketball violations:
Feb. 1, 2012
Violation: Assistant coach Bruce Kittle sent congratulatory text to a student-athlete who had signed with OU.
Feb. 1, 2012
Violation: Assistant coach Cale Gundy sent two congratulatory text messages to a student-athlete who had signed with OU.
May 14, 2012
Violation: Assistant coach Jackie Shipp sent a text message to a recruit who was a junior at the time.
Sept. 12, 2012
Violation: Assistant coach Bruce Kittle sent contact information for one recruit to another recruit, who was a junior at the time, when he meant to send it to assistant coach Josh Heupel. Resolution: For the four violations above, the football staff was precluded from having any written or telephone contact with recruits for two weeks and Kittle, Gundy and Shipp were provided detailed rules education. Contact for the three assistants involved was self-imposed. The NCAA expanded the noncontact period to the whole staff.
July 19, 2012
Violation: Assistant coach Bruce Kittle pocket-dialed a recruit a day after receiving a permissible text message from the recruit. Resolution: Football staff was prohibited from initiating phone calls or correspondence with the recruit involved for four weeks and the recruit was declared ineligible for competition at the school barring NCAA reinstatement (self-imposed).
Violation: Online payments for summer football camps for two high school players were returned for insufficient funds. Attempts by the athletic department, football front office personnel and camp accountant to contact the responsible parties were unsuccessful. Resolution: The student-athletes were declared ineligible until restitution has been made. Coaches and camp directors were provided detailed rules education (self-imposed).
Aug. 13, 2012
Violation: Assistant coach Mike Stoops returned a phone call after receiving a call from the recruit that same day. Resolution: Stoops was prohibited from initiating phone calls to recruits for two weeks beginning June 15. Stoops was provided detailed rules education regarding impermissible phone calls.
April 13, 2013
Violation: Head coach Lon Kruger commented on an unsigned recruit during the television broadcast of the school's spring football game. The recruit signed April 19. Resolution: Kruger was given detailed rules education regarding publicity.
April 17, 2013
Violation: Athletic department administrator Michael Alford tweeted congratulation to head coach Lon Kruger and OU basketball after a recruit committed to the school. The recruit signed with OU that same day. Alford deleted his tweet within five minutes. Resolution: The department provided detailed rules education regarding publicity.
Minor violations of this sort come to light every few months, and we all have a laugh, and then we move on, as if these were all some sideshow to the serious stuff, like Miami or USC or the tattoos at Ohio State. But in a way, that bit of excessive pasta lies at the heart of the issue. A rule exists, and there is paid staff at Oklahoma to ensure the rule is being observed, and there is paid staff at the NCAA to ensure that Oklahoma's staff is doing the ensuring—a whole universe of people making money by ensuring that a different class of people don't make any. (You've heard the canard about how there's no money to pay the athletes? Well, the money is already there—it's in enforcement and administrative staff and new buildings in which to house the administrative staff and big salaries for the people who oversee the administrative staff, etc., etc.) Enforcing petty violations is how the bureaucracy propagates itself.
The saddest part is how the member schools flagellate themselves in an attempt to stave off heavier punishments. They have to know how ridiculous the whole spectacle is, yet here they are, spanking themselves over and over, undoubtedly more out of inertia than moral conviction. And the world keeps spinning.
Photo via Getty