Cam Newton and 10 College Athletes in Scandal: Is It Their Fault or the System?
Cameron Newton is currently under investigation for allegedly seeking improper benefits while being recruited by schools like Mississippi State and Auburn, and we have found ourselves in the midst of yet another NCAA violations scandal.
It is common knowledge that the NCAA strictly prohibits student-athletes from accepting payment of any kind from agents, boosters, recruiters, etc., but it seems like the world of intercollegiate athletics didn't get the memo.
Take a look around the college sports landscape for a moment.
Cameron Newton is not the first college athlete to spark this type of investigation, and he certainly won't be the last.
So we have to ask the question:
"What is wrong with college athletics?"
Are these student-athletes just greedy?
Or is there something wrong with the system?
Let's take a look at 10 college athletes who have undergone NCAA investigations and decide who is really at fault in each case.
10. Marvin Austin
What Happened: The University of North Carolina had over a dozen members of its football team sidelined for receiving improper benefits including alleged trips to Miami and even hanging out with former UNC football players currently in the NFL.
Tar Heels defensive tackle Marvin Austin was suspended indefinitely this season for allegations regarding parties in Florida as well as academic cheating.
Who is to Blame: If the problem is team-wide like this, can we really blame the players?
Part of the problem with violations like these is that these players are not aware that they are doing anything wrong.
"Hey, Marvin! Do you want to come to Miami for a party?"
Would you really say no?
9. O.J. Mayo
What Happened: In 2008, a former friend of Mayo revealed on ESPN's Outside the Lines that Mayo had received improper gifts before and during his time at USC. The NCAA investigated this matter and ruled that Mayo was indeed in the wrong.
In 2010, USC declared that Mayo was ineligible for the 2007-2008 season, and the school vacated all 21 of the team's wins during that season, giving the Trojans an 0-12 record.
Who is to Blame: Rodney Guillory, a promoter in the Los Angeles area, was said to be the liaison between Mayo and Bill Duffy Associates Sports Management, an agency which allegedly gave Guillory $200,000 in order to add Mayo as a client.
Mayo described Guillory as a "mentor," so the blame is fairly obvious here.
If Guillory really had Mayo's best interest at heart, he should have made sure that the basketball star stayed on the right track.
When a kid looks up to you (and yes, I consider college athletes "kids"), you take on a certain responsibility, and Guillory did not fulfill his.
8. Marcell Dareus
What Happened: Marcell Dareus was ruled ineligible for two games this season after an NCAA investigation determined that he received improper benefits during two trips to Miami for agent-hosted parties.
Dareus was ordered by the NCAA to pay $1,787 to a charity of his choice before returning to play for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Who is to Blame: The University of Alabama athletic department was sure to stress that Dareus was unaware that he was in violation of any NCAA rules, and you know what?
I believe it.
These student-athletes may know that receiving money is against the rules, but do they really understand what "improper benefits" really consist of?
Plus, making a college student (athlete or otherwise) cough up almost $2,000 is just cruel. Most student-athletes aren't allowed to have part time jobs, so where the heck is this kid going to come up with that kind of money?
If accepting a trip to an agent's party is a violation, the agents shouldn't be throwing the parties in the first place.
7. Maurkice Pouncey
What Happened: The NCAA is currently investigating allegations that Maurkice Pouncey received $100,000 from a sports agent between the Florida Gators' loss to Alabama in last year's SEC Championship and the Gators' appearance in the 2010 Sugar Bowl.
If Pouncey is found to have violated NCAA rules, Florida will have to vacate its Sugar Bowl victory.
Who is to Blame: If an agent did indeed offer Pouncey money, then of course the agent is to blame.
A young athlete entering the NFL Draft would be in need of an agent, but preying on Pouncey in a way that compromised his eligibility is the fault of the sports agent.
6. Josh Selby
What Happened: Kansas freshman Josh Selby has not been able to play a game with the Jayhawks this season because of NCAA investigations involving his relationship with Bay Frazier, business manager of Carmelo Anthony.
Selby has been close friends with Anthony for some time now, and he and Frazier are both Baltimore natives.
Who is to Blame: In this case, the NCAA may be taking things a bit too far. There is some serious gray area when it comes to relationships between student-athletes and advisers.
A student-athlete should be able to interact with a mentor during such an overwhelming time in his life, and the NCAA it is up to that mentor to not cross the line when it comes to preserving the athlete's eligibility.
5. Maurice Clarett
What Happened: Maurice Clarett was dismissed from the Ohio State Buckeyes football team after the program had become overwhelmed with his off-field antics.
Clarett was accused of filing a false police report, accepting improper benefits, and then misleading investigators.
Who is to Blame: In this case, Clarett seems like he was just a bad seed in the Ohio State athletic program, but perhaps some guidance would have helped him out.
When a young man suddenly finds himself in a situation where he has to deal with all the responsibilities that come with being a star athlete, it can be difficult to make the right decisions.
This is an area where many universities really drop the ball. College students cannot be expected to automatically have all the right answers, and it should be the responsibility of the school to provide its students with the proper guidance.
4. A.J. Green
What Happened: Georgia Bulldogs receiver A.J. Green was suspended for the first four games of this season for selling his jersey from the 2009 Independence Bowl to an agent for amateur athletes.
Who is to Blame: The rules.
College athletes are not supposed to receive "payment" for their talents, but it's just a jersey!
So if Green decides to sell his computer desk on Craigslist, should he be suspended for that as well?
3. Dez Bryant
What Happened: Dez Bryant was ruled ineligible for part of his 2009 season with the Oklahoma State Cowboys after failing to fully disclose his relationship with former NFL player Deion Sanders.
Bryant missed out on a possible Heisman Trophy.
Who is to Blame: This one is completely ridiculous. Deion Sanders didn't give Dez Bryant any money. He has been known for mentoring up-and-coming athletes, and his friendship with the receiver shouldn't be any of the NCAA's business.
2. Reggie Bush
What Happened: The NCAA found Bush and his family to have received improper benefits during Bush's time at USC. Bush apparently received upwards of $200,000 from a sports agent.
USC was put on probation for four years and forced to vacate the Trojans' last two wins of the 2004 season as well as all of their wins from the 2005 season.
The Trojans will not be eligible to compete in bowl games in 2010 and 2011, and Reggie Bush was forced to return his Heisman Trophy.
Who is to Blame: This is a tough one. Reggie Bush should not have accepted gifts (monetary or otherwise) from a sports agent, but the agent should not have offered such gifts in the first place.
Instead of imposing sanctions on Bush and USC, there should be stricter rules regarding the people who are actually paying these athletes.
If rules can be enforced to stop these payments at the source, we wouldn't have to hear about these scandals time and time again.
1. Cameron Newton
What Happened: Recently, allegations have surfaced regarding Auburn Tigers quarterback Cameron Newton and his attempts to seek payment from Mississippi State.
At first, a third party was thought to be independently shopping Newton without the quarterback's knowledge, but recent reports have revealed that Newton and his father were looking for more than just scholarships in return for Newton's commitment.
Newton has not yet lost eligibility, but if he is found to have violated NCAA policy, he and Auburn will face strict sanctions.
Who is to Blame: In this case, if Newton's father did indeed request payment from recruiters, he should be the one to blame for this scandal.
Even so, somebody had to have put the idea in his head that this was an acceptable way to do business.