Cheaters never prosper, unless they play in the CCHA. That’s what college hockey fans learned over Halloween weekend via a league ruling that was all trick and no treat.
Bowling Green used an ineligible player to win an overtime shootout against Nebraska-Omaha, a detail the four referees did not see until after the game ended. The real crime, however, is that the league refused to punish the Falcons or reward the Mavericks once the error was caught. Instead of taking the extra standings point away from Bowling Green and giving it to Nebraska, CCHA officials decided to let the result stand.
“I think that’s a terrible precedent for a league, and I think the integrity of the league’s at stake when you make that sort of decision,” Nebraska-Omaha athletic director Trev Alberts told the Omaha World-Herald. “You’re actually encouraging member institutions to cheat, as long as they don’t get caught before the game is declared over.”
Let’s start with the facts.
After playing to a 3-3 tie in both regulation and overtime, Friday’s contest between Bowling Green and Nebraska-Omaha went to a shootout. Jordan Samuels-Thomas, who was whistled for a roughing-after-the-whistle penalty with 16 seconds left in the game, scored the Falcons’ winning shootout goal. According to NCAA rules, any player who gets called for an OT penalty cannot participate in the shootout.
In a statement released by the CCHA Saturday, the conference declared that an “error in rules enforcement during the course of the game, while unfortunate, can only be corrected during the course of the game. Once the game is concluded, there are no further actions that can take place to correct the situation.”
According to CCHA Rule V.8, protests arising from decisions of game officials or from errors or misinterpretations of the rules will not be considered — and according to NCAA Rule 6-SECTION 39, protests are not recognized or allowed.
Ok, now its time for my opinion: that is a load of garbage, especially on a night that is supposed to be about passing out candy.
It’s one thing to say that the CCHA will not field complaints about officiating. I understand why that is necessary. Without that rule the league would receive endless letters about all the missed calls we Miami fans (in our completely objective viewpoints) see from the stands every Friday and Saturday night.
This is completely different. This is not about a “misinterpretation of the rules” or a bad call by the ref. With intention or not, Bowling Green cheated; now the Falcons are getting away with it while all of college hockey watches. That’s what this is about.
I agree with Alberts. This is terrible for the CCHA’s reputation and integrity. It really does encourage cheating. I don’t expect this exact situation to happen again since everyone will now be looking for it, but doesn’t this make all coaches and players want to look for similarly obscure rules to exploit? According to the ruling, they’ll be scott free once the final whistle blows.
Other sports punish cheaters long after the final results come in. The International Olympic Committee stripped a juiced Marion Jones of all five of her medals from the 2000 games. Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden stands on the cusp of losing 14 of his wins as punishment for academic fraud. Pending appeal, the 2007-08 Memphis Tigers will lose all 38 of its wins from their season, including all five NCAA tournament wins, in response to the Derrick Rose scandal. College basketball’s dirty laundry list of revoked Final Four appearances also includes Ohio State (1999-2002), Michigan (1992-1993), UCLA (1980), UMass (1996), Minnesota (1997), Saint Joseph’s (1961), Villanova (1971) and Western Kentucky (1971).
Certainly these examples come from a much higher stage than the one we are dealing with here. You may argue that if spilt milk isn’t worth crying over then one point in the CCHA standings isn’t either. I, however, am far more concerned with the precedent the ruling sets and the glaring lack of ethics behind it. I also wouldn’t mind seeing that one little point significantly change the CCHA playoff picture at the end of the season so this whole thing blows up in the league’s face.
In the opinion of Inside College Hockey writers Mike Eidelbes and Joe Gladziszewski, “the happy-happy-joy-joy CCHA could use a little piss and vinegar.”
I’ll add a tall glass of spilt sour milk to the tab.