In today's world, it's hard to see a big-time athletic program as a helpless victim. But in certain cases—that is what they may be.
In the wake of the O.J. Mayo allegations and the Reggie Bush scandal, USC is in hot water with the NCAA. They could forfeit games if it's found that Bush violated his amateur status by taking money and/or gifts while in school.
These are two of the more famous cases since the scandal involving the Fab Five—which all but destroyed Michigan's basketball program.
So who is really to blame?
Many are quick to point to the program involved, but really, can it be believed that nothing is being done?
Most schools tell their student athletes the rules about agents and gifts and try to educate them on what the consequences are if those rules are violated. The athletes can stray away from those rules when the wrong people are hanging onto them.
At the end of the day, the schools can't stop kids from making a bad decision.
Is it USC's fault that Bush and Mayo may have accepted money and gifts from agents before their eligibility was up? I say no.
You can't stop a kid who had a rough upbringing from turning down cash and, in some cases, a lot of it.
Ohio State has had their troubles in the past and may have brought in a lightning rod in the form of prized recruit Terrelle Pryor. (Rumor has it that he was given a brand new Corvette by an OSU booster, but this hasn't been 100 percent proven.)
Is it necessarily the school's fault if a booster takes matters into his own hands? No, it shouldn't be.
The fact of the matter is that there are more factors involved in determining which high school kid ends up at which college besides the gameplan and the campus.
It used to be that boosters paid kids to commit to their program. Now, it's more about agents who want to get their hands on the next big thing before anyone else can. A sort of "I'll pay you if you promise to sign with me when you turn pro" agreement.
At the end of the day, the NCAA may not have the cleanest of hands, but in this sort of matter only so much can be done. Agents will always be slimy, and kids will forever make bad decisions when tempted.
It's the way of the world.