As we are sure you are aware Yahoo! Sports is reporting that the Syracuse basketball program violated the school's own drug policies and may have used players that, according to the school's policies, should not have been eligible.
All we do know about this situation is this - the school, via an on the record statement from its spokesperson, said the issue was self-reported to the NCAA months ago. It turns out that this self-reporting was done over a year ago -- which has been confirmed by the NCAA.
What we don't know is everything else -- because Yahoo! doesn't have a single on the record source in their piece of "investigative journalism." Let me reiterate that - Charles Robinson and Pat Forde wrote over 1,100 words and not one of them directly quotes any person as to what actually happened. That is so absurd that its stunning.
Yahoo! does state is that they have four sources with the ever popular "intimate knowledge" of the Syracuse program, and a fifth source who is a former player. This group of sources claims least 10 players failed drug tests over a 10 year period and either practiced or played when they might not have been eligible.
However, what they don't provide are names of players, the recreational drugs they tested positive for, when these violations were said to have occurred, or how the positive tests were covered up. So basically Forde and Robinson are telling us they trust these sources enough to publish a damning report, but not enough to provide very basic information on supposed violations.
Frankly that's bullshit. If you are going to accuse someone of wrongdoing -- and do it anonymously -- you better damn well provide some details. Sports Illustrated didn't have any problem getting on the record sources to talk about UCLA. Then again, after seeing how much attention that expose got, Yahoo! must have decided it was time to drop this turkey because life is all about timing.
Look, I work with the media and have for most of my career. I get the fact that sometimes anonymous sources are needed to break stories. What I don't get is burying the reputation of an entire school without a single one on the record -- especially given the subject matter.
This is a story about drug testing. It isn't about espionage, child rape or murder. You mean to tell me that Robinson and Forde couldn't find a SINGLE one of their precious sources to say, on the record, this is what happened and this is what I know? What could possibly happen to that person? It's not like Jim Boeheim has Paulie Walnuts and Christopher on speed dial and the whistle blower is going to end up in the Pine Barrens. I could find anonymous sources who say Robinson has inappropriate relationships with hamsters, it doesn't make it true.
Here is what I do know -- it's March, when the spotlight on college basketbal shines brightest. This year Syracuse's star is shining as bright as any in the country. With UCLA priming the pump for stories about "programs that are out of control," and in a day and age when pageviews rule the roost (and determine advertising rates) there's no better time to drop a "report" with no facts or names associated with it, than now.
ESPN has been running the report on the bottom line crawl all night. It has been talked about during every halftime show. It's a pageview goldmine for Yahoo! -- a struggling, desperate company that is considering thousands of layoffs in an effort to turn around a failing business.
If Syracuse broke rules, news organizations should report that and the school should be punished. I've got no problem with that. What I have a problem with is dropping a story without any concrete facts and no names attached to it because it is the best time of year to get exposure for the story - yet sadly that's the era we now live in.
The lack of details amps the up the sensationalism, which is exactly what Yahoo! wants. Someone call me when we really know what happened - because frankly Yahoo! hasn't told me a thing -- expect that they want people to talk about them. The public deserves better.