Without question, the Institute deserves its share of blame for the penalties handed down by the NCAA last week. The Tech officials directly involved in the situation should have been more cautious and aware of the guidelines, especially given that Tech was still subject to repeat offender status following major NCAA violations in 2005. Athletic Director Dan Radakovich is experienced enough to know that when there is even somewhat plausible evidence of a player being ineligible, the player needs to be pulled from the games. The players should be aware of the implications of their actions, but at the same time, the onus is on Tech’s athletic department to properly educate them in such matters.
However, despite the fact that the NCAA held legitimate claims on certain issues, many of their allegations were based on conclusions drawn from inferences, rather than hard information. Also, though the NCAA insisted that they had no intention to set Tech as an example, it was plainly stated that this was to be a “cautionary tale” for other colleges. The penalties, the purpose of which were to punish the Institute and its sports programs, affect the players from the 2009 team more directly in reality. The NCAA unjustifiably damaged the legacy and the pride of dozens of players on the 2009 team who were not directly involved in the scandals in question.
Given that the penalties from the investigation were largely due to Tech’s poor response to the inspections, it is necessary in the future for Tech to proactively seek external assistance if available staff appears unprepared. While indications are that mistakes by Tech’s inexperienced general counsel were at the root of the trouble, Radakovich and other administrators must take responsibility and back up their vows that Tech will enact measures to ensure that any future situations are handled properly.