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NCAA rules punish Florida’s Sharrif Floyd

Just when I thought the NCAA couldn’t top the many instances of unintentional comedy it has put forth of late, the laughingstock from Indianapolis has again surprised me.

Although I doubt fans of the University of Florida football team are laughing, the rest of us can only chuckle to ourselves as collegiate sports’ governing body continues to defy all logic or reason.

In its latest bizarre twist, the NCAA ruled Gators defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd ineligible for the team’s first two games, Saturday’s 39-0 win over UAB and the Gators’ Sept. 3 win against Florida Atlantic.

Turns out, Floyd supposedly violated the NCAA’s preferential treatment rules by accepting $2,500 cash spanning a period of several months from someone not associated with Florida. Floyd used the money for living, transportation and other expenses, according to the NCAA.

Floyd was therefore ordered to sit out two games and arrange for the payment of $2,700 to charity in order for his eligibility to be reinstated.

On the surface, this makes sense. However, I would like to propose another scenario where punishment might also make sense on the surface, but wouldn’t make sense when all the facts were known.

Lets say in the latter part of last April, a University of Alabama football player spent a week living at an assistant coach’s house, and had meals provided for him by the coach’s wife. Sounds suspicious if those are all the facts, right?

Well, what if the player’s home was destroyed by a monster tornado, and temporary shelter and food was necessary given the circumstances? Surely the NCAA would make an exception, right?

In fact, immediately after the EF-4 tornado ripped through Tuscaloosa, The University of Alabama asked permission from the NCAA to take care of all athletes displaced by the storm. The NCAA naturally allowed the university to do whatever was necessary.

What does this have to do with Floyd? Floyd grew up in the rough parts of Philadelphia, sometimes lived in the basement of an aunt’s friend’s house and wore the same clothes to school every day.

Floyd’s high school coach, Ron Cohen, said he provided travel, lodging and meals to Floyd while he took some unofficial visits to prospective colleges during Floyd’s recruitment, none of them Florida.

Dawn Seeger, Floyd’s guidance counselor, arranged a bake sale to raise money for Floyd to showcase his skills in the U.S. Army All-American game.

All of this was supposedly “preferential treatment.” As the Joker from “The Dark Knight” would say, I thought my jokes were bad.

To borrow a quote from Gators’ head coach Will Muschamp, there is nothing preferential about Floyd’s life. The fact that he’s getting to play college football instead of living life on the streets surrounded by drugs and alcohol is a blessing.

Only don’t accept much-needed help along the way to earning that scholarship, because the NCAA, defenders of all things righteous and pure, will be on you quicker than Floyd can go after an opposing quarterback.

With all of the real cheating going on in college sports, I’m thrilled the NCAA is using resources to punish success from an unlikely situation.

At this point, I have to wonder if the unintentional comedy is, in fact, unintentional at all.

MICHAEL KEREKES is the sports editor for The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3633 or at michael.kerekes@natchezdemocrat.com.

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