Arizona State: Lack of Institutional Control Could Close Book On Sleeping Giant

Kristian SiutaCorrespondent IIDecember 18, 2009

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 23:  Head Coach  Pat Murphy #42 of the Arizona State Sun Devils talks with an umpire during game 13 of the 59th College World Series with the Florida Gators at Rosenblatt Stadium on June 23, 2005 in Omaha, Nebraska.  The Gators won 6-3 to eliminate the Sun Devils from the tournament. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Imagine an athletic program settled in the sun drenched valley of Arizona, with fertile recruiting grounds right at their finger tips, first rate athletic facilities, and where a sleeping giant has been rumored to lay, year after year, after year. But has that sleeping giant, been cheating to prosper? The NCAA might have something to say about that.

Arizona State is a program that has basked in the glory of countless accolades and national championship trophies, and now, an NCAA investigation has knocked on the Sun Devils' front door. 

ASU has gone through their fair share of rules violations and numerous NCAA investigations, but none seem as detrimental as this latest allegation. 

In years past, the Sun Devils went through recruiting violations in basketball in the '90s, football had their hands deep in financial aid and improper tuition benefits under Dirk Koetter, and now the baseball program, might have to spill the beans in regards to the "lack of institutional control" that the NCAA says defines the Sun Devils' athletic program. 

Unfortunately for die-hard ASU fans, the man at the forefront of these allegations of presumed rule violations, is Pat Murphy. Murphy, ASU's head baseball coach since 1994, abruptly resigned on Nov. 21, but Athletic Director Lisa Love came out and said, "Murphy's resignation was not directly related to an ongoing two-year school investigation into allegations made against him by a former baseball employee, including claims of academic fraud and improper recruiting travel." 

Now, none of that sounds good. I think everyone knows that Murphy did not resign, he was forced out, and/or fired. Seriously, who would fire a coach that has won three straight Pacific Ten conference championships and has been named Coach of the Year three straight seasons as well? 

Well, an athletic director who wants to separate the school's name and the coach's name, would be the perfect fit to cut ties with a Hall of Fame coach. 

However, Arizona State has been through this before. This is not the first time that ASU has been slapped with these infractions. Just four years ago, in regards to the tragic Loren Wade incident, the Sun Devil program was placed on probation in 2005.

If these allegations of "lack of institutional control" are confirmed, then ASU would be linked as the school with most probationary violations since 1953. 

All sports fans remember the Southern Methodist University scandal in the late 1980s, where the infamous "death penalty" was the outcome of countless recruiting violations and the pay-for-play scandal. 

Currently, ASU and SMU are tied for first, or in this case, last with eight major NCAA violations tied to their school. Now, with ASU's athletic department facing much scrutiny over these allegations, the Sun Devils might turn from a sleeping giant in the desert, to dead man walking in hell. 

For a program to be committing secondary and major rule violations, while that school is already currently on probation might spell "DOOM" for the Sun Devil athletic program. 

While the saying goes, "where there is smoke, there is fire," Dennis Erickson and his football squad have stayed surprisingly squeaky clean through the past four seasons. Although individual players have been arrested, charged, and suspended, Erickson has shown his "institutional control" over his players. 

It is a shame, that a great coach like Pat Murphy has to take the fall for a whole Athletic Department, but for ASU, when this is all said and done, this might protect their interests in moving forward as a more "controlling" and prosperous athletic program.