Two key members of Oregon’s men’s basketball team did not travel to Korea for the season opening game against Georgetown and may miss up to 12 games. Sophomores Dominic Artis and Ben Carter are suspended indefinitely while they wait reinstatement by the NCAA for violations involving the sale of team apparel. The NCAA has not determined the exact length of the suspension, which is driven primarily by the value of the exclusive shoes Artis and Carter allegedly sold.
Adding another dimension to the case is Oregon’s opening game in Korea. Last year, San Diego State successfully argued that Winston Shepard should not be deprived the opportunity to play in the “Battle on the Midway” because it was a unique event. That argument stems from the same portion of the Division I Student-Athlete Reinstatement Guidelines that allowed the Buckeye Five to play in the Sugar Bowl in 2011, for violations that are very similar to those involved in the Ohio State case. So why did Artis and Carter not get a break. The answer lies in the reinstatement guidelines:
The student-athlete reinstatement lead administrator in consultation with the division-specific chair, and other committee members at the chair’s discretion, has the ability to suspend a reinstatement condition in very limited circumstances if the next contest is the NCAA championship, a bowl game, the NIT or a national collegiate championship. The general practice is that student-athletes are withheld from the next contests even if the next contests are part of the NCAA championship, a bowl game, the NIT or a national collegiate championship and that policy remains in place. Suspension of a withholding condition is to be used in very limited circumstances where the culpability of the involved student-athlete is minimal and withholding from an NCAA championship, a bowl game, the NIT or a national collegiate championship does not seem appropriate. Further, the suspension can only be used if the student-athlete has eligibility remaining the following academic year. [emphasis added]
Ohio State claimed that the football student-athletes were improperly educated and thus were not culpable for the violations. Oregon was either unwilling or unable to make a similar argument. The existence of the Ohio State violations and how highly publicized their were make it harder for institutions to use the same argument in similar cases going forward. Every major athletic program should have made NCAA rules regarding student-athlete apparel and equipment a major point of emphasis after Ohio State’s violations.