NCAA Won’t Punish Clemson For Illegal Underwear

Earlier today, the college football media (or at least Spencer Hall) was abuzz, agape, and agog at the news that the Clemson Tigers football team would be forced by the ACC to give up two preseason practices for the strange, strange violation of improper and illegal benefits underpants (padded compression shorts). Everybody seemed confused by the sudden ruling, from Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney on down.

It was a ruling that came with uncharacteristic speed from the bowels of the NCAA (how’s that Reggie Bush investigation coming?), but when the swift practice sanctions were met with equally swift derisions from all corners of the college football world, the NCAA - cowardly body that it is - retreated this afternoon and reversed the practice penalties. The score now stands: NCAA 129,834 - Common Sense 1.

Here’s how the original sanctions came down earlier today, according to RIVALS.COM:

Clemson has had two of its preseason practices taken away, due to an ACC ruling on what it has deemed as the Tigers practicing in improper attire, head coach Dabo Swinney said Monday.

“We’ve got what I’m calling Girdle Gate going on around here,” Swinney said. “The pants that were under our shorts - and just so you know we’ve always worn that around here - for whatever reason it has become an issue this year. On the first two days of practice the ACC ruled that this was improper attire? to have that girdle on with the little built-in padding.

And here’s the NCAA’s retraction:

“The NCAA gave further review to this situation and informed us this afternoon that we can have the full compliment of practices during the preseason,” Clemson Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips said Monday afternoon. “We are pleased with this decision.”

The NCAA probably thinks it’s going to win brownie points with skeptical fans and media with their sudden reversal. The truth, of course, is that they just end up looking dumb. Again. As usual.

The idea that padded undershorts give a team an unfair competitive advantage is ludicrous enough, but even if they were determined to be unacceptable, a discreet phone call to the athletic department would probably have achieved the desired results, without looking like a bunch of incompetent fools. Again. As usual.