Open Mic: Can The NCAA Fix Its Problem?

Braden MooreAnalyst IMay 14, 2008

With the recent news of OJ Mayo receiving gifts and breaking NCAA regulations, one must ask themselves if this problem is one that has the possibility of being solved.

In one word, the answer is, "no." 

As long as college athletics continue to be a big business (and yes it is a business), regulations will continue to be broken.  With so much money at stake, there will always be boosters and administrators that view the reward of landing a prized athlete to outweigh the risk of getting caught.

So, a reasonable person may then ask, "If college sports as a business is the problem, why don't we pull money out of it?"

This is entirely unrealistic.  If the NCAA pulled down the scholarship number, that would only accentuate the problem, as the top athletes become more and more precious.  There would be an increase in the gifts given to athletes.

Another possible idea would be to increase surveillance and effectiveness of investigating possible digressions.  Again, this is not a workable solution.

If you look closely at the OJ Mayo story, NCAA officials were tipped off by a former confidant of Mayo's.  In essence, the NCAA did no work finding it out on its own.  In the Reggie Bush case, it took a months-long investigation by Yahoo! Sports to uncover the Bush family's dirty laundry.

The NCAA does not have the manpower or the resources to patrol itself effectively to the point where it could ensure that no transgressions were taking place.

If by some miracle the NCAA figured out a way to police itself, the boosters and athletes would simply become more careful or develop new techniques of offering gifts.

A good parallel of this dichotomy, albeit a very dark and gloomy parallel, is the war on drugs in America.  Drug dealers (the boosters) have something that they are trying to distribute to people (gifts, money) under the noses of those in charge (NCAA officials, athletic directors).  Not to get too political here, but the war on drugs is not one that the government is winning.  It has been going on for over twenty years, and has no end in sight.

In conclusion, this is a problem that will not be solved.  Boosters will always have too much disposable money, and have too much passion for their alma maters.  Student athletes are too poor and too young to really understand the consequences of accepting said gifts (and if anybody thinks that they would do any differently they need to get off of their high horse). 

College sports will forever be a business, and while the NCAA cannot turn a blind eye on these transgressions, they cannot expect to prevent them from ever happening.