It is no surprise to fans of college sports when a new story breaks about the most recent recruiting violation, DWI, fight or other random suspension of a student-athlete. Each of these cases is unique in the level of guilt the athletic program is willing to assume, if they are willing to assume any at all.
Recruiting coordinators and assistant coaches from collegiate athletic programs have been breaking recruiting rules for as long as rules have existed to be broken. Cash payments and other incentives have long been a part of the “informal” recruiting process of delivering blue-chip athletes on campus. Many of these cases have been exposed in the media, and the NCAA has given the slap on the hand as punishment, but usually nothing more.
Only a few, like SMU in the 80s, have seen the NCAA’s wrath in the form of the seldom-used “death penalty”. The PR machine which anymore is such an important element of a collegiate athletic department isn’t responsible for spin in these situations.
Where these spin-makers are at their best, however, is when it comes to extracurricular activity from the players away from the field. Over the past few years there have been countless cases of players drinking while driving, fighting and otherwise acting like you would expect 18-22 year olds to act when fueled by alcohol and god-knows-what-else.
In almost every case, these incidents are met by the coaches with a no-comment. When the details arise, the PR machine goes to work, often resulting in a hot issue becoming cold.
What exactly are these people being paid for? To cover up something unsavory which warrants more attention and could tarnish the reputations of the big boys. Is this ethical. No.
Will it continue as long as collegiate sports generate the revenue for their universities that it does? You bet.