Open Mic: Paying College Players Goes Back A Long Time Just Ask John Wooden

John LewisSenior Writer IMay 16, 2008

With O.J. Mayo getting a full court press of questions surrounding his suspicion for taking money and other gifts from an area sports promoter and area sports agent, will the NCAA finally get a handle on the cash being passed under the table?

Paying players dates back a lot further than Mayo and the other recent athletes that have been caught with their hand in the cookie jar.  According to many sources close to John Wooden and the UCLA Bruins it was suggested that Sam Gilbert, a Los Angeles contractor and supposed money launderer, took care of a string of greats that suited up for the legendary Wooden.

According the many of the program's greats, Gilbert was known as Papa Sam and he often extended an open invitation to his home for the players to hang out.  Many former players have noted over the years that Gilbert provided them with cash and clothes during their playing days and even went on to say that Gilbert was a mentor to them. 

Everyone wants a winner and coaches push the rules to the limit on many occasions.  But that begs the question, who's policing the police? 

But folks this is the NCAA.  They pick and choose who they go after and how far the punishment goes.  While some programs have been put on probation for recruiting and other numerous violations, other programs just get a slap on the wrist.  It seems as though the NCAA doesn't distribute equal punishment.         

While the rules have become stricter with the changing of the players, the media is the reason for that, not the NCAA.  Anytime a prominent player is seen having lunch with someone it's in the news. 

So in my opinion the NCAA will never fully stop players from getting paid from sports agents as they are attaching themselves to younger players every year.  One of the few ways to stop these actions is to dole out heavy fines and possibly suspend the sports agency for doing business for a certain length of time.  The only true way to stop this is to hit them where it the wallet.

Also, if a team is found guilty of knowing about a player and his/her situation then scholarships should be taken away as well.  Just ask the former Indiana University Basketball Coach if making illegal phone calls is worse than paying players.  I know that cheating is cheating, but many programs don't get hit with the punishment they often deserve.