About Cheatin': The NCAA Needs To Start Tryin' (Differently)
For an organization which monitors the phone calls and text messages of grown men, it seems paradoxical that the NCAA stands by as amateur athletes allow themselves to be courted by exponentially creepier grown men.
But to be fair, we have to consider whether this sort of corruption of amateur athletes can be avoided.
For one thing, sports agents aren’t the only ones trying to get the edge in recruiting young athletes.
Last year, USC offered 14-year-old Ryan Boatright a scholarship, a 5-foot-9, 135-pound kid who has not competed in a single high school game. (He accepted.)
So if getting an eighth grade commit doesn’t sound outrageous, are sports agents offering benefits to gain an edge so shocking? Understandably, it is not every college program chasing after prepubescent will-be stars.
But as long as a standard of finders-keepers drives recruitment of amateur athletes, it is doubtful that the courting rituals will cease.
If you ain't cheatin' you ain't tryin', and the NCAA needs to recognize there are countless adherents of the faith. Agents won’t ever stop pursuing these young athletes.
The NCAA exercises no sovereignty over these agents. But it does over its athletes.
Athletes at the ripe age of 18 or even younger may not be prone to the keenest judgment. But it doesn’t take a genius to understand rules, right and wrong and consequences.
And just like in any other facet of life, if you don’t understand those concepts, you suffer.
For the athletes who are looking to be one and done, it is clear that their future as an upright NCAA athlete doesn't necessarily dictate their actions or their conscience. So let them go straight to the NBA and deal with David Stern.
If it is either need or greed that drives young athletes into the pros, more money is greater than less money every time. So paying college athletes doesn't appear to look like a very effective answer.
But changing focus may be.
Instead of penalizing coaches like Rick Majerus who decided to take out grieving Keith Van Horn to dinner after his father passed away in 1994, the NCAA needs to put the fear of God in these players to abide by the rules.
The NCAA needs to force athletes proven to have accepted benefits to sit out a few years before being eligible to apply for the draft. The athletes stand to lose the most, along with the agents who hold a stake in the athletes' future.
The bottom line is that the NCAA needs take into account the climate of the times and punish appropriately.
I don't necessarily see Mayo's alleged infraction as indicative of a corrupted future for college athletics. The NCAA isn't at fault for bad apples. There will be steroids and alleged shootings, dog executions and guns hidden in car washes.
But if the upcoming elections prove anything, it’s that America is willing to embrace change we can believe in. And maybe that's something the NCAA can benefit from too.
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