“In the Zone” runs Thursdays. To comment on this article visit dailytrojan.com or email Trevor at [email protected] As I watched the NCAA championship game, I could only shake my head in disbelief.I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The entire Butler team could not put the ball in the basket, and, as hard as it is to believe, UConn wasn’t much better.But besides the lack of offensive efficiency both teams, there was something even more disconcerting.UConn was crowned the 2010-11 NCAA champions.I’m not saying I despise the Huskies, but it’s what happened leading up to the win that irritates me.In March 2009, Yahoo! Sports reported UConn violated NCAA rules in recruiting former guard Nate Miles.Former student manager-turned-sports agent Josh Nochimson provided the four-star recruit from Ohio with lodging, transportation, restaurant meals and representation.The NCAA found evidence of phone calls and text messages exchanged between Miles, Nochimson and a former UConn assistant coach.In October 2010, UConn acknowledged the violations that occurred when recruiting Miles, and imposed sanctions on its own men’s basketball program, including a reduction in scholarships in each of the next two seasons and a two-year probation.UConn coach Jim Calhoun was found guilty for failure to “keep an atmosphere of compliance.”Sounds familiar, right?It is eerily close to what happened with the USC men’s basketball program three years ago.Former guard O.J. Mayo was believed to have accepted improper benefits from Rodney Guillory.The NCAA, however, had no hard evidence to back up the allegations.But in January 2010, USC chose to self-impose sanctions, which included a reduction in scholarships, a forfeiture of victories during the 2007-08 season and a four-year probation.More damaging than the loss of scholarships, though, was a one-year ban on postseason play.To top it all off, the Trojans also lost five recruits during the NCAA’s investigation, most notably three players who starred in Arizona’s Elite Eight run this March: guard Lamont Jones, forward Solomon Hill and forward Derrick Williams.In USC’s case, the NCAA decided not to punish the Trojans any further. In UConn’s case, which was rendered in February 2011, the NCAA tacked on another year of probation, reduced the number of scholarships from 13 to 12 and the number of recruiting days for coaches by from 130-90. Calhoun must also miss the first three games of the 2011-12 season.The biggest difference: UConn was allowed to play in the postseason.The program didn’t ban itself from postseason play, and apparently, the NCAA thought UConn rightfully had served its punishment.Nobody cares about a loss of scholarships or a reduction in the coach’s recruiting days — all of that is irrelevant.Basketball programs can survive with 11 players on a roster, especially an elite program such as UConn’s.And players just want to play in the postseason; they want to play on the biggest stage known in college basketball known as March Madness.The NCAA could have banned UConn from the Big East and NCAA tournaments, but it didn’t.However the NCAA deems what punishments are fair or unfair, it should not provide cheaters with an opportunity to win so easily.UConn clearly broke the rules, yet now sits atop the collegiate basketball world.Cheaters should never win, and winners should never cheat.The pervasive nature of these cheating scandals in collegiate athletics has left a dark cloud over the sport.But I guess it doesn’t matter anymore. I’m used to this madness by now.
National Ophthalmology Hospital …necessary kits not being purchasedBy Kristen MacklingamThe multimillion-dollar National Ophthalmology Hospital at Port Mourant, East Berbice-Corentyne, is once again under the microscope for not being in a fully operable state.PPP MP and Vice Chair of the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Social Services, Dr Vindhya PersaudReports are that there are no cataract surgeries being done there although the facility has the capacity to conduct some 10,000 surgeries annually.According to Region Six Chairman, David Armogan, those in charge of the hospital are not purchasing the kits necessary to conduct cataract operations and, therefore, many patients who are in dire need of this service have to pay large sums at private institutions for their surgeries.“All that they are doing is testing the eyes. They are not buying the kits to do surgeries for cataract so they are not able to do what they are supposed to be doing. A lot of the people being affected are poor ones who cannot afford private care,” he stated.TravestyMeanwhile, PPP Member of Parliament and Vice-Chair of the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Social Services, Dr Vindhya Persaud told Guyana Times that such a situation is a “travesty” which should have been corrected years ago when the issue of the National Ophthalmology Hospital was brought to the attention of Parliament.Region Six Chairman David Armogan“After this Government took office, there were reports that this hospital was not function, and at that time I was the Chair of the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Social Services and the reports were laid at the Parliament about it.That was 2017 when it was laid and it was only being pushed around for about one year there but by then the rotation of Chairmanship occurred and Mr John Adams from the APNU/AFC side was given the mantle of the Committee. Since then, we as a Committee have not visited anywhere or have not done anything and there are no reports placed at Parliament,” she posited.Dr Persaud explained that since 2017 there were reports of small parts and essential components of equipment missing at the National Ophthalmology Hospital that are crucial to the operations there. These were responsible for the non-function of the facility since back then.She recalled that the $140 million facility at Port Mourant was commissioned in July 2009 and was the first specialised Ophthalmology centre in the Caribbean and Latin America and served not only Guyanese but foreign patients seeking affordable and quality eye care surgeries.“But now it is not serving this purpose. When the PPP introduced this hospital, it used to cater to the needs of thousands of people annually but no more. Many people benefitted and still can once it is operating once again but that is up to those that manage it,” Dr Persaud added.In May last, Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence announced that after a hiatus of being inoperable, the facility would have recommenced cataract surgeries. However, the Ophthalmology centre is yet to provide the crucial treatments and surgeries that it once used to prior to 2015.Relating to figures, after its first 10 months of operation, there were 21,074 persons seen at the centre.There were 8932 persons who were seen for refractive errors of the eye. One thousand five hundred and thirty-six surgeries were done, of which 316 were cataract surgeries.