Are College Sports About Anything but Cheating Today?

Gary BrownCorrespondent IIJune 3, 2010

HARTFORD, CT - FEBRUARY 13: Coach Jim Calhoun of the Connecticut Huskies reacts to fans as he walks onto the court before a game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at the XL Center on February 13, 2010 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images


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Rumor has it that Friday will be the day when the NCAA finally announces their decision on punishment for Southern Cal related to infractions against both their men’s football and basketball programs. With the news of issues surrounding the grades of one of Kentucky’s “one-and-done” players, Eric Bledsoe, we might be soon starting another countdown clock on the length of time until John Calapari has another player who is determined to have arrived at college with question marks.

John Calhoun’s Connecticut program is facing eight NCAA major violations from not following the rules when it comes to text messages to not promoting an atmosphere of compliance. What was the response of Calhoun to these charges? Here is what he said:

"It's not exactly certainly anywhere near the high point in my career, matter of fact, it's certainly one of the lowest points at any time that you're accused of doing something. We're going to handle it the way we've always handled things: up front, transparently and do the best we possibly can to find out if we had made mistakes and carry on."

Did you get that last part about transparency and being up front? One of the charges the NCAA has levied against the Huskies program is they provided misleading information to the NCAA. I’m sure they will do better now.

Meanwhile at Kansas they are having a different set of problems. It seems there were key people in the athletic department who believed the seating chart at Phog Allen Field House was their own personal ATM machine and used their positions to generate cash for their personal enrichment. Great work if you can get it.

In Michigan, Rich Rodriguez was like Calhoun, accused of not promoting an atmosphere of compliance. Rodriquez was using some of his staff to supervise extra practices and requiring players to devote more time to football each week than the NCAA allows.

Oklahoma president David Boren sent the NCAA a letter this week stating the school adheres to NCAA rules, looking to end the Sooners probation related to past violations in the past with both the football and basketball programs. He put this in the mail just as concerns are arising regarding a wire of $3,000 that was sent to Oklahoma player Keith “Tiny” Gallon.

Have you ever heard the old proverb “He that will cheat at play, will cheat you any way.” When it comes to college athletics it seems there is more and more winking and nodding at the rules of the game in order to gain any advantage possible to win games, land a recruit, or make a buck.

There is also a quote by Benjamin Franklin that seems appropriate in the modern world of major college athletics that goes, "He'll cheat without scruple, who can cheat without fear." 

Why not cheat? Calhoun was given a contract extension by the UConn administration worth $13 million over five years on the eve of the NCAA announcement regarding the violations in his program. Calapari has played loose with the rules, and managed to stay just out of reach personally, all the way to a Kentucky job many would consider the best coaching position in college basketball.

Has the world gone mad recently? Well, yes and no. The world of college athletics has never been as pure as we might want to believe. If you want a good read that details the impact of money on the purity of college athletics from the very start then read “Varsity Green” by Mark Yost. It was not long after the games started that money was corrupting things.

What is different today? Well, we want to know your opinion. We invite you to visit our home page between now and next Wednesday and provide your input into NCAA cheating in our exclusive fan poll on the subject (click here to participate in the poll). We will analyze your responses and provide insights from your opinions on why we can’t seem to open our papers up without a new accusation of NCAA violations somewhere.

Until then, keep your fingers crossed that you don’t pick up your paper one day to find the name of your favorite school on the front page with the word cheater in front of it.

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