Tales Of Bad Behavior This Week In Sports

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In the NFL, one suspended bad boy is ready to make his debut. Also, the University of Miami is under investigation for what might be the biggest rules violation in NCAA history. There was bad behavior overseas, too: Georgetown's basketball team got roughed up in a "good will" game against a Chinese team. Guest host Jacki Lyden talks with NPR's Tom Goldman about a tough week in sports.

JACKI LYDEN, host: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. Time now for sports.


LYDEN: It was a bad week for the NCAA. One suspended bad boy is ready to make his NFL debut. Plus, the University of Miami is under investigation for what might be called the biggest rules violation in NCAA history. And Americans were involved in a skirmish on Chinese soil or courts anyway. NPR's sports expert and whistleblower Tom Goldman joins us now from Portland.

Hi, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN: I'm happy to be here, but I'm really depressed after hearing that intro, Jacki.

Why's that?

All the horror. What happened to the sis-boom-ba of college sports?


LYDEN: I don't know. I never got to actually take up those pom-poms. But, you know, Terrelle Pryor has had his problems for a long time - the star quarterback. Now, he's already running drills for the NFL. I mean, are they looking the other way?

GOLDMAN: They say they're not. He is, of course, he has qualified for the supplemental draft in the NFL, which happens on Monday. But he's being suspended for the first five games. Now, people are saying that the commissioner, NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell had the right to do this. And then it sends a message to perspective incoming players that, as one NFL spokesman said, you can't break the rules in college and get a free pass into the NFL.

Now, the con side to this is that it's hypocritical of the NFL to impose this penalty, ostensibly taking the moral high ground when, critics say, the NFL is part of the problem in colleges because it just sits back and benefits from a free minor league system, which is college football.

LYDEN: You know, everyone thought that was such a scandal. And then along came the news about Miami. Is this the worst potential scandal that the NCAA's ever seen?

GOLDMAN: It's being called that. Allegedly the former booster, Nevin Shapiro, at the heart of this thing, he had full unlimited access to Miami athletes, mostly football players, for over eight years, providing them with, he says, millions of dollars of impermissible benefits. And Miami coaches allegedly knew about it or took part in it.

But, Jacki, let's not forget what happened Southern Methodist University in Texas in the late 1980s. That was huge. Players were getting paid. It was proved that the payments were approved by the school. And SMU got the toughest punishment the NCAA can hand down - the so-called death penalty. It shut down the sport for a couple of years at SMU. And the long term ramifications were huge and cost the school dearly for decades.

LYDEN: And, Tom, if I were an NCAA official, maybe I'd want to take a vacation this week. Georgetown's basketball team goes to China, goodwill game, next thing we know front page pictures, players coming to blows with the Chinese team.

GOLDMAN: That was ugly.

LYDEN: Maybe one of them made a joke about the U.S. credit rating.


GOLDMAN: Whatever happened, the Chinese team apparently went to the airport as the Georgetown team was leaving and they exchanged gifts and, you know, said sorry about that guys.

In the meantime, you know, people were figuring who's to blame here? But it sounds like even from Chinese fans that this Chinese team has gotten into trouble before. You know, they've gotten into fights, and that they may have been the instigators here.

LYDEN: Next time, they can try ping-pong diplomacy.

GOLDMAN: Ping-pong diplomacy. It worked once. But I don't know. Ping-pong, if you haven't heard, Jacki, it can get pretty physical these days, too.

LYDEN: Thanks for sharing, Tom.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

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