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For once, the NCAA deserves a pat on the back

A GRIP ON SPORTS • What is the old line? Drama is easy, comedy is hard? Well, here on SportsLink we amended it. Criticism is easy, praise is hard. Today, we take the hard path. Read on.

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• It is easy to criticize the NCAA. The organization does so many oddball things, it's almost as if it is inviting everyone to make fun of it. We could list a litany of the truly dumb things from the past five years or so but then you wouldn't have time to read what's coming next: an attaboy for college sports' governing body. Yesterday, the NCAA identified a problem and moved quickly to remedy it. That quickly part is what's so strange. Honestly, the NCAA is trying to come to grips with the new reality of college athletics. Slowly but surely, under former UW president Mark Emmert, the organization has evolved, moving glacially slow, sure, but moving toward a fairer playing field for the athletes. You can argue the motivation – you think, just maybe, lawsuits have lit the fire? – but the bottom line is someday in the not-so-distant future college athletes will be partners in this deal. But that's for the future, and there have been way-too-many years that have passed to get there. Which is why the NCAA's announcement yesterday it will pay a pretty penny to get families to the Final Four in basketball (men and women) as well as granting an emergency waiver for the College Football Playoff folks to do the same for Oregon and Ohio State families this weekend. There will be up to $1,200 for family members to draw upon so they can watch their sons risk live and limb in Texas for the glory of the first big-school football playoff championship. That and make millions of dollars for the coffers of all the schools. So grab your morning cup of coffee and raise it in honor of the NCAA. It made the right decision. For once.

• Randy Johnson isn't known as the nicest guy in baseball history. Far from it. But when he met the media yesterday to talk about his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame, he did a very nice thing. He put in a plug for the Hall of Fame candidacy of his former teammate, Edgar Martinez. Johnson, considered one of the top left-handed pitchers of all time, called Martinez "the best pure hitter I ever saw play or faced." Such praise won't get Martinez elected by the writers – he finished eighth in the voting yesterday but was still light years away from the 75 percent voted needed for inclusion – in his remaining years, but it might hold weight when Martinez moves into the category of old-timer and is considered by a different committee. One can only hope.

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• WSU: Jacob Thorpe listened to what Ernie Kent had to say yesterday and he transcribed it on the blog. ... Jacob also put together a morning post with links. ... Connor Halliday's NCAA-record passing night against California was one of ESPN.com's top performances in the Pac-12 last season. ... Steve Alford is already on a hot seat in Westwood. Of course. Because a year-and-a-half is more than enough time to make a judgment.

• Gonzaga: Elle Tinkle (pictured) was basically a role player in her first two seasons with the Zags. She still is. It's just that her role this year is as leading scorer. That's been the case in WCC play thus far. Tom Clouse has her story in his women's basketball notebook. ... Signee Jesse Wade poured in 46 points in a prep game last night. ... St. Mary's played its final non-conference game last night and won easily.

• EWU: It was a busy day yesterday for Jim Allen, who put together blog posts on Tyler Harvey (the NCAA's leading scorer), the Eagles' mid-major ranking and some football recruits.

• Idaho: The Vandals are preparing for their first Big Sky rivalry game with Eastern. Sean Kramer has a report in this blog post.

• Whitworth: Speaking of rivals, the Whitman Missionaries are the Pirates' top foe. So last night's sweep at Whitworth was a big deal. Tom Clouse has both stories, covering the women's 59-52 win (pictured) and the men's 65-57 victory.

• Preps: For a while last night it looked as if the GSL boys' race was going to be tightened up a bit. But Rogers pulled out a double-overtime win over visiting Ferris and kept atop the league standings. Greg Lee has the story. We also can pass along a roundup of girls' GSL action as well as roundups of boys and girls play around the area.

• Chiefs: The top WHL teams added players for the stretch run this week. Chris Derrick has more in this week's WHL notebook. ... Everett traveled to Brandon and shut out the Wheat Kings, 5-0 last night. 

• Seahawks: The injury gods giveth – in the form of center Max Unger, who returns to the lineup this week – and they taketh away – in the form of defensive lineman Jordan Hill, whose calf injury landed him on the injured reserved list. ... Hill is the latest in a long line of Hawks who have had their season cut short. ... Pete Carroll talked about that and more yesterday. ... The newest Seahawk wasn't doing much. ... As long as they do their job, the Hawks feel they will win. ... A couple of assistants are not holding their breath about head coaching positions.

• Mariners: Johnson's election to the Hall of Fame comes with some mixed feelings for M's fans, feelings John Blanchette captures in today's column. ... All in all, though, the election, a foregone conclusion for the past five years, was met with praise throughout baseball and in Seattle.

• Sounders: There can be no argument the Sounders have been successful. But they still haven't won the big prize. So yesterday the organization shook up the front office a little bit, bringing in a new general manager from Salt Lake City to handle the on-field decisions. ... Believe it or not, the Sounders are thinking about their own stadium.

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• When today is done we will be closer to next weekend than last. I guess that's why Wednesdays are called hump days. Nothing slips by me. Until later ...



Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Vince Grippi's daily take on all things regional sports has been moved to our main sports section online. You can find a collection of these columns here.