Tez Walker is eligible to play for the Tar Heels. This is the most important thing to remember, through all of this, even as we try to wrap our heads around the mental gymnastics that the dazzling intellects on the various committees and sub-committees that make up the figurehead that pretends to be in charge of collegiate athletics have presented to us. The ever-patient Walker, after being caught up in the middle of what appears to be a truly bizarre and ill-advised power play by college sport’s erstwhile governing body, has been rewarded by finally being permitted to play the sport he excels at, the sport he loves, and has been playing at the collegiate level for years now. This is unequivocally a good thing, setting completely aside his expected ability to contribute to a Carolina offense that has led the way to the first 4-0 start since 1997.
The NCAA continues to lead the way backwards, tripping over itself in a self-righteous fervor to make the wrong point. If we are to give credit where it’s due, then surely none resides with this spineless collective that exists only to further its own existence and talk out of the side of its mouth about caring for anything more than the bottom line. This decision was the correct one, sure, but the process was as deeply and clearly flawed as the system that created this laughably toothless governing body, clinging desperately as it is to its arbitrary rulings as if to make them law by the power of positive thinking.
Shame is a completely logical next step after exhibiting such stunning cowardice as the NCAA has indulged in: doubling down on a bad decision while attempting to hide behind unsubstantiated claims of “threats of violence.” The NCAA should be ashamed, as Coach Brown said yet more eloquently than I could hope to, for how badly this turned on them given how many chances were given to make the obvious right choice; it’s natural. It’s right. I hope Charlie Baker, the President of the NCAA, feels this shame acutely and personally, given his obvious interest in this case.
In the NCAA’s statement, Baker, the aforementioned captain of this sinking ship, said that there was “new information” presented, information that somehow tipped the proverbial scales in Walker’s favor. It’s hard to fathom that there was any information that University of North Carolina leadership would have withheld at any point in this process, let alone that new groundbreaking information would be sent over after the final appeal had been denied. It doesn’t fully add up.
Odd timing, then, that the NCAA had recently received a letter from North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein paraphrasing politely and clearly what would happen to the NCAA if Tez Walker’s case made it to court. Certainly that wasn’t the new information that led to the NCAA’s change of heart. Surely the fact that the due date to respond had recently come to pass didn’t have anything to do with the sudden course correction in the student-athlete’s favor.
The continued chastising of North Carolina leadership for deciding to “wage a public relations campaign” rings as nothing more than pitiful mewling for the respect to which this organization seems to think it is entitled; a pathetic bid to wrest some form of control from a situation in which the NCAA clearly believed its word to be the law until the actual law came around. Shame can manifest in strange ways; not least among them a tendency to lash out.
Through all of this, though, the most important thing is that Tez Walker can play football again.
What a great day to be a Tar Heel. What a terrible day to be the NCAA.