It's possible I'm not even sure how to address such a dastardly act -- and I use the term "dastardly" in comedic form. I don't generally get into these squabbles between the NCAA and its culprit members. Some are more dastardly than others, and some are more comedic.
But when Georgia Tech broke into the headlines with news that the NCAA had cracked down on the once holier-than-thou Yellow Jackets, I could hardly wait to see just what the crime was. The penalty sounded harsh enough, more than just trading tattoos for tickets, not like supplying one of its star's family luxury housing and a garage full of Bentleys. Then I read the details and wondered to myself, "All this for $318 worth of haberdashery?"
Surely there must have been some dastardly violation submerged there somewhere. You see, the NCAA had been working on this case since the season of 2009, the season when Georgia Tech won the ACC championship, played in the Orange Bowl, and when Paul Johnson was establishing his kingdom on the campus.
An investigator named Marcus Wilson dropped in for a visit and called on Morgan Burnett, the defensive back. The question was: "Did Calvin Booker take you and Demaryius Thomas out to get some clothes?"
Booker was a backup quarterback who seldom played in Johnson's option offense, a teammate, a friend. And Burnett said he did, and the crunch was on. Booker was only some agent's messenger, not the culprit himself, just a friend of Wilson's targeted victim.
Wilson was only going through the back door to get in the front, well knowing that once he moved in on Dan Radakovich, the athletics director would call in his coach and get to the bottom of this hideous crime. Wilson had warned him, but did he really expect the athletics director not to do his own investigating? So now, instead of two athletes, the NCAA now had an AD and a coach to sweeten the mix. Radakovich already had his hands full with an over-burdened budget, an unpopular revision of Alexander Memorial Coliseum -- plus removal of the grand old Alexander name -- and an upheaval in the basketball program.
For all this, Tech was stripped of its ACC championship -- for the presence of Thomas, the highly regarded receiver -- and fined $100,000 because Radakovich had violated Wilson's admonition not to share the garbage with his coach, Johnson. That's about it, as I get it -- that Thomas became ineligible when he accepted the $318 clothing gift, thus indicting the whole program -- in the eyes of the NCAA -- to which Radakovich added his own violation by conferring with his coach.
Why shouldn't he? The coach was his employee.
Furman Bisher is one of the deans of American sports writing. The longtime Atlanta sports journalist is a member of the Georgia and Atlanta Sports Halls of Fame and in addition to his newspaper writing has authored multiple books on major figures like Hank Aaron and Arnold Palmer. He writes periodic columns for the Daily Post.