In reading through the full report on Syracuse's NCAA infractions, one theme continues to emerge throughout the document: lack of attention to detail.
Here it is in relation to the drug policy, which required the school to notify the players' parents following a first positive test:
Specifically, in his interview the head basketball coach acknowledged that he had student-athletes test positive and rather than call the student-athletes' parents, he brought the student-athletes in and talked to them. When questioned why he did not call the parents, the head basketball coach responded that the director of athletics did not require him to follow the policy and, in at least in some instances, "it would have been fruitless." At the hearing, the head basketball coach also admitted that he did not call the parents because his director of athletics told him he did not have to and he did not know that failing to follow the policy violated NCAA rules.
And again from Gross himself:
Similarly, at the hearing the director of athletics defended the head basketball coach's decision not to call parents, claiming that the policy was confusing. The director of athletics indicated that there was an "unwritten policy" whereby it was known that coaches were not going to call parents.
Here is a lack of attention to detail with regards to a certain star defensive player in 2011-12 and the Athletic Director's response:
He also expressed a desire for the best defensive player in the country to play " but acknowledged that he hoped it would be done within the rules.
At no time during this process did compliance, the head basketball coach or anyone that attended the January 25, 2012, meeting inquire about the validity of the work or grade change. Rather, in independent emails, the director of athletics and director of student-athlete support services expressed frustration in the faculty's review of the legitimacy of the grade change.
How about promotional activities for student athletes?
Specifically, on various dates from the 2003-04 through 2006-07 academic years, there were approximately 12 instances when student-athletes participated in a promotional activity without fully completing the promotional activity approval process. Some of the student-athletes participated in events without first submitting a signed promotional activity form and receiving institutional approval. Others participated without fully completing the promotional activity form or without executing a release.
And lastly, what about a representative who may have been providing impermissible benefits to players:
The institution repeatedly described instances in which it sought assurances from the representative that he would not provide extra benefits or special treatment. However, the institution, specifically the compliance office, did not provide examples of instances in which it provided NCAA rules education to either the representative or the part-time tutor during the decade-long relationship.17 Rather, those responsible for ensuring compliance encouraged these relationships and assumed they operated within NCAA requirements.
That last sentence really drives it home. "Those responsible for ensuring compliance ... assumed they operated within NCAA requirements."
There seem to be a lot of assumptions in this report.
Assumptions that the drug policy didn't need to be enforced as it was written.
Assumptions that the validity of work to change a grade for a player were done "within the rules," and then not checking to make sure that was the case.
Assumptions that athletes were following rules about promotional activities without verifying paperwork.
Assumptions that representatives would not provide extra benefits or special treatment to players.
And then you think, where have we seen this before?
"It was not something that — how can I say it — it wasn't something that you'd think would need to be looked at beforehand."
Oh yes, our very own Joe Giansante talking about how the athletic department assumed the plaque with Roosevelt Bouie's jersey was spelled correctly.
We can sit here and talk about how the penalties from the NCAA don't fit the crime - they don't. But we should also talk about how SU's complete and utter lack of attention to detail created this mess to begin with.
This is not new. And we can laugh a little when it happens in a meaningless - to some - ceremony. But it becomes a lot harder to laugh when that lack of attention threatens to derail the program with a debilitating loss of scholarships.
Sean's comments just a few weeks ago are ringing a little more true - and scary - today. This is no longer just a silly mistake.