Specifically the NCAA has decided that students who transfered to new colleges because of Katrina will have to sit out a year in Basketball, Hockey, and Football like any other transfers would. Now the transfer rule itself is complete bullshit. It serves to tie students to the colleges they picked as 17 year old sports stars even if they find they want to go somewhere else. Ostensibly it's to prevent schools from poaching other schools' players, but so what if they did? These kids should not be indentured servants. If student X decides he hates playing on team Y and team Z will have him, he should be able to transfer. This might be seen as tarnishing the academic image of school Z, accepting a kid just so he can play basketball, but that's up to school Z. School Z can say "Thanks but no thanks, you're not up to our academic snuff" or "You can come, but you can only play if you keep your GPA up." They don't need external coercion. No, what it's really about is what the NCAA is really about, protecting the schools. As if these massive, rich, institutions need protection against the students who would DARE to defy them. As if exploiting a student to play basketball for you is a worthwhile right to protect.
Given what's gone on with Katrina, though, things look even worse.
How is a basketball player supposed to play when his court is underwater? You can't dribble in a pool of toxic sludge. Will the football players for Tulane bolt snorkels onto their helmets? What are they supposed to do? Even non-athletes are transferring out of afflicted area universities to go to places that have crazy luxuries like electricity, safe housing, and professors. Columbia took on some students from Tulane, and many other schools have done the same. These athletes can't just continue going to their old schools, they need to find new ones, and restricting them from play is ludicrous. Many of them love their sports and want a way to get outside their heads and go back to the old routine. Some have dreams of playing in the pros and need a platform for their skills. Some just need a school to accept them and give them a scholarship, and they need to be able to play to do that.
The NCAA head claimed that he was enforcing the rule to prevent "looting" of programs. As if the Athletes were flat-screen TVs rather than people. As if the coaches saying "Come play here, our field is above sea level!" were doing so at gunpoint.
The NCAA has never cared about its athletes. Not when it restricts them from getting outside jobs, not when it keeps them from making money through endorsements even as their schools make millions of jersey and merchandise sales, not when it tells Athletes that they are the property of the schools they signed on to, schools they might not ever want to see again given what's transpired.
Apparently the NCAA doesn't just require that its competitors be armatures, it requires that its administration be heartless bastards. Welcome to the 21st century version of Fiefdoms and serfs. Long may they reign.
(Oh, and let's not even get STARTED on the whole 'Playoffs would be bad for academics so let's just add an extra game' bullshit. Let's not.)