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Tuesday (The NCAA gets a rule right) edition: Wha' Happened?

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • March 27, 2012 - 10:05 AM

Near the end of Baylor's women's basketball victory over Tennessee last night, there was a scuffle. Three Baylor players -- including star Brittney Griner -- left the bench.

In the NBA, that almost certainly would have meant at least a one-game suspension those players, which would have torpedoed Baylor's chances in the Final Four. But in the NCAA, it went like this:

No punches were thrown, but Griner and teammates Terran Condrey and Jordan Madden were ejected for leaving the bench.

"We had a whistle that we thought was a potential shot clock violation. After the whistle, we had a double technical foul on #0 for Baylor (Sims) and #40 for Tennessee (Stricklen) for unsporting conduct," referee Bryan Enterline said in a statement explaining the situation. "After that skirmish had started, three players left the bench area for Baylor -- 42 (Griner), 3 (Madden) and 20 (Condrey). They were ejected and removed from the bench. A bench technical foul should have been assessed regardless of the number of players that left the bench and did not participate in a fight."

The NCAA says none of the players will be suspended for the Final Four.

That's a very good rule -- far better than the NBA's hard-and-fast punishment that knocks a player out for at least the next game, too, regardless of what happened after they took a couple steps forward. We understand there is perhaps more danger in an NBA scuffle than a college hoops scuffle. Players are older, stronger and maybe have had longer to build up grudges. The brawl between the Pistons and Pacers in 2004 is a prime example. We even understand the intent of the NBA rule, which probably makes a player think twice about joining the fray (though the suspension for leaving the bench rule, which has been in place since the 1990s, hardly slowed things down at The Palace).

But outcomes also need to be considered. If players take a couple steps forward, realize the error of their ways, then quickly retreat, should they really be suspended? No. The NCAA's rule is the better one. If it escalates into something more than a few steps forward, then by all means dole out suspensions. For simply leaving the bench, an ejection is more appropriate.

 

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