There are a lot of conspiracy theories about why the NCAA makes a decision or not, but this one is really out there:
The Maryland program has been out of the spotlight of being among the nation’s elite teams long enough that few outside College Park are paying close attention to either of the decisions, so it’s easy to turn the Terps down.
That is from Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun. A couple of things…
First, if the NCAA was going to pick two decisions this year to simply deny because no one would notice, this are not it. Whether Maryland is part of the college basketball elite in recent years or not, it is a still an ACC school in a major media market with very good coverage by beat writers and bloggers. Decisions involving Maryland are not going to be overlooked.
Not to mention the two cases involved the son of an outspoken former NBA player and one of the most highly publicized transfers of the college basketball offseason. And if the NCAA was looking to quietly deny Sam Cassell Jr.’s case, invalidating all classes any prospective student-athlete took at Notre Dame Prep, which also roped in Xavier, was an odd way to go about it.
Second, if the NCAA is ignoring or denying the Maryland cases, to what end? Markus implies that it is because Maryland is not successful or popular enough to warrant the NCAA’s best work. In that case, who is? Which 37 basketball teams is the NCAA trying to guarantee at-large spots to? And if Maryland is not, who is?
If anything, the Cassell and Dez Wells cases are much more the fault of rote application of guidelines and precedent (as Markus notes in the Wells case) than any belief that adverse decisions against Maryland could slip by unnoticed.