The NCAA has been subject to numerous scandals throughout its history that range from murders (Balyor basketball player Carlton Dotson) to benefits scandals (Michigan's Fab Five) to a coach's inappropriate behavior (Ohio State's Woody Hayes punching a player).
Every year there are one or two major scandals (FSU cheating scheme and O.J. Mayo) and a few minor ones (UConn's Maya Moore inappropriately visiting ESPN) that fly relatively under the radar.
Are these fairly isolated events really a negative attribute widely affecting the popularity of college sports?
It seems pretty safe to answer that question with an emphatic no.
The fact that O.J. Mayo accepted benefits from some stupid agent doesn't kill the passion that the overwhelming majority of basketball fans have for the game.
Maurice Clarett's complete idiocy off the field doesn't stop any more than a few people from watching college football. Most fans sit back, say, "That boy is going to regret his mistake one day," and return to watching the game.
Maybe nobody tuned in to watch the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl where Kentucky hung on to beat a depleted Seminoles team 35-28. But in reality that's one of more than a dozen bowl game nobody other than the team's fans and dedicated football fans watches.
Most of the time, amateur athletes' wrongful decisions don't have a lasting impact on NCAA sports.
There isn't enough justification for amateur athletes to garner compensations for their performance on the playing field.
If an athlete wants to continue the arrogant, greedy athlete stereotype and break the rules to gain improper benefits, so be it.
If an athlete wants to make an immoral decision that he or she will have to live with when caught (which they most likely do, at least that's what the American sports fan is led to believe), then so be it.
If an athlete wants to put him or herself at risk of being alienated by players and fans in order to make some quick bucks before the pros, then so be it.
Athletes already get enough compensation. The majority of NCAA athletes play for teams that don't bring in any profit to the school. Despite that, they still get a free education, lodging, meals, tutoring services, clothes, and training facilities.
Just because a fraction of NCAA athletes bring in profits to their school doesn't mean they deserve a piece of the pie. Most athletic departments struggle to get by in the first place. How would most be able to afford paying the school's athletes some kind of salary?
Part of what's so great about the NCAA is the purity of the competition. Compensating athletes would destroy that purity. Some athletic departments would be able to shell big time bucks to athletes (like OSU and its 150 million dollar budget) while others would significantly fall behind.
If Myles Brand put a cap on compensations, many schools probably wouldn't be able to reach that cap and again fall behind.
Scandals are going to happen in any sport. Most NCAA scandals fall under recruiting and benefits violations. There really isn't anything they can do about it.
If O.J. Mayo did receive benefits, he should have to pay everything back (this rule might already be in place because he had to donate the value of Nuggets' tickets he got from Carmelo Anthony to charity).
Professional sports could step in and force a player to sit out a year before entering the league if they were found to have received benefits as an amateur. Considering most pro sports drafts are "amateur player drafts," if the player isn't an amateur should he be allowed to be drafted?
Athletes are people. People make stupid decisions. Should athletes be rewarded in an attempt to protect them from making stupid decisions?