Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus has been suspended by the NCAA for the first two games of the season for accepting almost $2,000 in benefits while in Miami. It's a start after what has been a summer rife with player/agent allegations and possible suspensions that will hopefully continue as long as necessary.
In June, the NCAA slapped the University of Southern California hard with a two-year bowl game ban, a four-year probation, loss of scholarships and possibly the loss of its 2004 national championship for players receiving improper benefits. The school has also had to vacate all of its football wins from 2004 and basketball wins from 2007-2008 after the four-year investigation into former star running back Reggie Bush and shooting guard O.J. Mayo concluded.
USC doesn't really care about its basketball team when the football team is in trouble so we can ignore Mayo's misdeeds. Basically, players and coaches who weren't around while Bush was being chauffeured around in limousines will now be forced to suffer while Bush focuses on winning another Super Bowl.
The NCAA decided that the school lacked institutional control over the situation, but is it really the school's or even the coaches' fault?
Every player knows he can't associate with agents while still at school. Sure it's hard when agents are all over the potential first-round draft picks whenever possible and the schools could do better to keep them out, but most of the misdeeds are happening away from the field.
And Pete Carroll had more than 70 other players and countless alumni breathing down his neck to be concerned with to worry about everything Bush was getting up to. But Carroll has a big contract with the Seattle Seahawks now, so he doesn't care too much about new coach Lane Kiffin's woes either.
It's not fair that the current and future crop of USC players is being punished for Bush's actions while he and everyone else possibly involved is walking off free. Sure the school is handing back his Heisman, but he's got a Super Bowl ring and millions of dollars at home to console him.
Consorting with agents is entirely the fault of the player and they've never been the ones to get punished. Dareus' punishment is hopefully only a start. If the NCAA wants this to stop, they'll have to start catching onto it while the player is still in school, and the punishments will have to start getting severe.
In addition, it's curious that the NCAA takes such a harsh stance with the school on this issue, but don't seem to mind when dozens of players from one team are getting arrested for DUI's or robberies. In both cases, the school and coach can't control every player all the time, so the NCAA will just have to wise up.