Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dez Bryant is in a strange situation

Dez Bryant is currently on an indefinite suspension from Oklahoma State due to a meeting last summer with Deion Sanders. There are a lot of ambiguous entries in the NCAA compliance manual, but the odd thing about Bryant's case is that nothing he did appears to have violated any rules; instead, he was suspended because he lied to an NCAA investigator when asked whether he went to Deion's home in Texas.

I said this a week ago ...
The only reason you would lie, of course, is if you have something to hide, so I have a feeling we've seen the last of Bryant in a Cowboys uniform.
... and I still think there might be more to this story than meets the eye, but only those in attendance know exactly what went down that day. Sanders has come out with a public statement claiming that he really just loves everybody and that the fateful meeting did not involve agent Eugene Parker in any way, and Bryant has since admitted that he only lied about the visit because he thought going to Deion's house was a violation, which it's not (this raises the question as to why he went through with it if he thought it was a violation, but that's a discussion for another time).

Bryant posted this update on Facebook late last week:
"This is why I’m suspended.....I went to Deion sanders house ....and the NCAA found out.....they ask me if I been to his house I told them no...I thought it was a violation...but it wasn’t... so I told them I went to his house... I lied to ...them and I shouldn’t have....and I’m not suspended for the rest of the season....I’m sorry osu!!"
If this is truly the only violation Bryant committed, the NCAA needs to step in and end his suspension ASAP. The Associated Press dug up this point of reference from Oklahoma State compliance officer Scott Williams:

Williams notes that "the threshold penalty for a violation of this nature is 50 percent withholding," apparently referring to a standard punishment that Bryant would be forced to miss half of the No. 15 Cowboys' games for his rules violation.

Bryant has already missed two games, and a six-game suspension would bring him back for the Cowboys' final three contests (Texas Tech, Colorado, at Oklahoma). That seems like excessive punishment for lying about something you wouldn't even get in trouble for, but if that's the rule, so be it. At least he'd be back for a significant portion of the season.

If there's more to the allegations, the NCAA needs to make that known. But his current suspension is based on a violation of NCAA Bylaw 10.1(d), which relates to an athlete "knowingly furnishing the NCAA or the individual's institution false or misleading information concerning the individual's involvement in or knowledge of matters relevant to a possible violation of an NCAA regulation." In other words, he has only been penalized for lying (so far, anyway).

Bryant has admitted his mistake and publicly apologized; the NCAA now needs to do its part and either spell out any additional allegations or set an end date -- preferably at some point in the next three weeks -- for his suspension.

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