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story.lead_photo.caption In this April 21, 2018, file photo, Mississippi State football helmets sit on the sideline during the second half of Mississippi State's Maroon and White spring game in Starkville, Miss. Mississippi State was punished by the NCAA Friday for academic misconduct violations committed by 11 student-athletes and a student tutor, including nine players who competed while ineligible because of the violations. Photo by Associated Press / News Tribune.
Colin O'Brien
After Missouri's NCAA sanctions were announced in January, athletic director Jim Sterk said the severity of the punishments might incentivize future offenders against complying with the NCAA's investigation.

Board of Curators chairman and former men's basketball star Jon Sundvold went further, saying the ruling undermined the institution's credibility and might bring about the demise of the oft-derided bureaucracy.

With the NCAA's ruling and sanctions against Mississippi State announced Friday, the governing body of collegiate athletics in the U.S. gave the institutions it represents, and the fans of those schools, more ammo.

A Mississippi State student tutor completed coursework for 10 football student-athletes and one men's basketball student-athlete, the kind of academic misconduct the NCAA punished Missouri for earlier this year.

In this case, according to a release from the NCAA, it found " in the fall semester of the 2018-19 academic year, the tutor committed academic misconduct in an online general chemistry course when she completed multiple assignments, exams and, in some instances nearly the entire course, for 10 football student-athletes and one men's basketball student-athlete in exchange for cash payments."

There are distinct differences between the two cases, but whether that's enough to justify the disparity in punishment is irrelevant in this case: it was enough for the NCAA, and that's likely final. Mississippi State also discovered its in-house academic misconduct, when an athletics academic advisor overheard a conversation between two players that mentioned the violation. Missouri's academic tutor went on social media to tell her story and try to pay off the balance of her student loans, prompting the compliance department to launch its investigation.

More importantly, the negotiated resolution process between Mississippi State and the NCAA, in which the two parties agreed on the severity and extent of the violations, was not available to Missouri. The new bylaw, which states "The enforcement staff may negotiate a resolution with an institution or involved individual about alleged violations and proposed penalties. The negotiated resolution is subject to approval by a hearing panel and must resolve all known violations for which the agreeing party may be subject to penalty pursuant to Bylaw 19.9" was adopted Aug. 8, 2018, after Missouri's investigation was already underway.

Even though the NCAA is playing by its own rules, those rules are often so convoluted and nuanced, they make it seem at least tone deaf, and in some cases vindictive. But the NCAA has also shown it doesn't really care about the court of public opinion.

The Mississippi State ruling makes it seem like the right thing to do would be to accept Missouri's appeal and reinstate postseason eligibility for baseball, softball and football. The NCAA may still do so, though it was clear in Mississippi State's case, "Negotiated resolutions may not be appealed and do not set case precedent for other infractions cases."

That's a big caveat. And it's no secret Missouri's athletic budget needs bowl participation revenue, which is why the athletic department is fighting this tooth and nail. There is still the possibility the NCAA will lessen its punishment of Missouri, but don't hold your breath it will be because of this subsequent ruling.

If Missouri becomes bowl eligible this season, the NCAA won't issue an apology with its updated ruling, and whatever the result, the decision-making means to an end will remain obscured and leave us all guessing once again.

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