(Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 10:53 AM
By doing right, McNeese State has now been wronged.
Done in by its own league and the NCAA.
On New Year’s Eve the Cowboys were supposed to play Dillard University in one of two nonconference home games.
It was expected to be an easy victory for a team that had struggled against a tough schedule, almost all on the road.
If ever a team needed a breath of fresh air it was the Cowboys. Instead, the Southland Conference and NCAA blew smoke in their face.
McNeese was forced to cancel the game because of a scheduling quirk that would have put them over the limit of contests against lower division schools.
The rule snuck up on McNeese because of an originally nonscheduled tournament game against Stillman College earlier in the season.
After Stillman, the Cowboys knew they had a problem and requested a waiver from the league and NCAA. It was denied.
The Cowboys, like good soldiers, spoke the party line and said they will move on.
However, no doesn’t always mean no.
Just last week the SLC announced three of its teams, two men’s and one women’s, would have to forfeit a total of four league games because of the rule.
Then the SLC asked the NCAA for a wavier, just like McNeese had done. This time the waiver was approved and the games are back on.
McNeese had its legs cut out from under it.
Now the Southland, which created this mess by overextending last year, has made a bad situation even worse.
The league has taken sides in this battle, as has the NCAA.
Two organizations that have always vowed to treat everybody on equal footing did nothing of the sort in this debacle. They have played favorites.
In this game of eenie-meenie-miney-mo, the Cowboys were the ones left without a foe.
With McNeese, the NCAA and Southland were saying ignorance of the law is not an excuse.
With friends like that, who needs enemies?
It seems the Southland is treating newcomers better than schools that have stayed in the league for years. Makes one wonder if McNeese should not at least look for a new home.
In this latest case, they gave Oral Roberts — a second-year school and one that is about to leave — and the others, folks who knew their schedules when the season started and waited until the last minute to cry foul, a mulligan.
It is not fair to the Cowboys, who lost a home game, a likely win and the home gate.
Granted, playing Dillard on Dec. 31 is not a big pay day. However, it is just one of the two games that was being played in Burton Coliseum before the conference schedule began.
And besides, this is not about the money. This is about what is right and what is wrong.
If a waiver was good for the others, then why wasn’t it good for the Cowboys?
It is true that the four conference games would have a greater impact on the standings than a nonconference game like McNeese would miss out. That doesn’t really work though when you look at big picture.
The Cowboys would have been better off playing Dillard when the game was scheduled and not looking ahead. Then they would have been another team that would have been forced to forfeit a game later in the conference.
Maybe they would have gotten their waiver then.
It just seems like the Cowboys, by being responsible and thinking about solving the problem before it happens, ended up getting the short end of the stick.
That should never be the case.
The Southland Conference and NCAA dropped the ball once again, and this time it was bounced right off McNeese’s head.
And for doing what was right, the Cowboys suffered one giant headache.
Making matters worse, they also got that slap in the face from officials who should have been out to protect them.
That’s just not fair.
Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org