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Gazzolo Column: A little more hypocrisy from the NCAA

Last Modified: Tuesday, October 08, 2013 11:17 AM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

As McNeese State opened Southland Conference play at Central Arkansas, one player was missing from the Bears sidelines.

Senior linebacker Justin Heard was suspended, indefinitely, for violating NCAA rules.

Officially, the school said Heard has been given the heave-ho for “breaking team rules.” No further explanation was given.

However, reports have come out as to just what Heard’s crime was.

He gave some of his scholarship money to his brother, a walk-on for the Bears.

Heard has admitted as much, turning himself in to the school.

The NCAA could not wait to jump on the kid from an FCS university.

And what did the other Heard do with the cash?

He didn’t buy beer, or take his brother to a movie.

Instead, the money was used to buy textbooks according to all accounts.

Textbooks, how dare they.

You would think these kids actually went to college to get an education.

“If it was an athletic scholarship that was given to the student, (the extra money) is the university’s money and not the student’s,” said Evonne Meeks, a financial aid analyst at UCA was quoted in an on-line article.

What in the name of student/athlete is going on here?

Heard’s crime comes on the tail end of the summer of Manziel.

That’s the summer of Johnny Manziel for those of you college football fans who have been spending their off time under rocks.

While it is true Manziel never turned himself in, or even admitted to any wrong doing, the NCAA still suspended him ... for half a game against Rice.

Heard has already missed more time than Manziel, whose wild ride through the offseason resembled a college freshman on spring break at Daytona Beach enjoying his first taste of freedom.

The NCAA looked into Manziel’s signing of sports memorabilia for profit and concluded there was not enough evidence to pursue any case. Still, all parties agreed to some type of punishment.

That’s a lot like the district attorney telling the world there was not enough evidence to convict a felon of his crime, but for the good of everybody the two sides have decided the alleged crook will do some light community service.

Playing only half a game against Rice is equal to community service.

This came after Manziel’s wild summer of fun, one that saw him popping up in just about every happening place from Thibodaux to Austin, Texas.

Only the Manning family had the guts go tough on Johnny Football, sending him home for missing a meeting during their elite quarterback camp.

I’m sorry, the parties agreed that in the best interest of all parties Johnny should go marching home.

Heard was just sent to the bleachers for trying to be a true brother and set a good example.

The NCAA can’t handle that.

The real difference is simple. Manziel won the Heisman trophy last year. Heard has just 189 tackles in three-plus years for the Bears.

Manziel turns on televisions, Heard toils in the Southland Conference.

The SEC and ESPN want Manziel to play. Few care if Heard plays again.

The NCAA is worried about players being paid and what they do with their scholarship money.

However, its decisions like this that make you wonder who’s paying the NCAA.

Maybe the Heard’s should have gone to them for a loan so they could study for classes.

We all know the NCAA has more than enough money itself and it doesn’t want to share.

Not even for textbooks.

• • •

Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at jgazzolo@americanpress.com

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