Sports are paramount in America. Since the introduction of Entertainment and Sports Programming Network in 1979, sports have had wall-to-wall coverage on our televisions. Stadiums are packed across the country and patrons pay top dollar for inflated tickets, merchandise and concessions. Companies spend millions on 30-second commercial spots during games. The money keeps pouring into sports, and all they have to do in exchange is provide us with an exciting product.
That is why the NCAA will never change their practices.
Cameron Newton burst onto the scene this year with his breathtaking performance as QB at Auburn. His play has raised the Tigers to unbelievable heights, invoking memories of game changing athletes Vince Young, Reggie Bush and Tim Tebow. He became the most dominant athlete at Auburn since the great Bo Jackson. He’s a frontrunner for the Heisman, and his Tigers are No. 1 in the BCS standings. Unfortunately, he should not even be on the playing field.
Cam’s father, Cecil Newton, allegedly sought money from Mississippi State University in exchange for his son’s signing with the Bulldogs. School officials denied the request, and Newton ended up at Auburn. Since the news broke in early November, Cam has remained silent, going so far as to cover his mouth while celebrating his jaw dropping performance in a comeback win at Alabama.
Cecil denied all allegations from the start. NCAA officials ruled that Cam’s father acted without his knowledge, and restricted his involvement in the program. The NCAA did not punish Auburn or Cam, and he was reinstated fully December 1. This decision makes the NCAA and BCS priorities crystal clear: Don’t mess with our money.
Cameron Newton was NEVER going to be punished for his and his father’s actions. Punishing Newton, arguably the nation’s best player on the top rated team, would cripple the marketability of the BCS title game. It would have affected sponsor income, damaged the SEC and impacted Auburn’s recruiting practices. Why would they pull Newton out when he is still selling out Jordan-Hare stadium and producing huge ratings on CBS and ESPN? You wouldn’t.
This situation stinks, much like the Reggie Bush debacle at USC. Bush’s parents received a new home from boosters for Bush’s play with the Trojans. Bush played dumb, much like Newton (did Bush just stumble into a brand new home and think his parents won the lottery?) and no punishment was thrown out. Bush went on the win the Heisman, and lost a thriller to Texas in Pasadena.
After Bush bolted for the NFL, suddenly the stories are back and Bush is a cheater. He forfeited the Heisman and wins were “vacated” from USC. The NCAA had no issue punishing Bush AFTER the fact, because he was no longer making them money. If you think they won’t do the same to Cam Newton, you’re crazy. Newton will likely win the Heisman, and barring a collapse against South Carolina, will be in Glendale playing for a BCS title.
Up until that game, Newton’s transgressions will be overlooked by the NCAA. After he escapes Auburn and takes his talents to Sunday afternoons, the floodgates will open. He will be deemed a cheater by the NCAA, and will ultimately be forced to either vacate wins or his expected Heisman trophy.
They will betray him once he isn’t making them money.
Now I am not in any way defending Cam Newton or his actions. If he did in fact take money, he should be deemed ineligible, but NOW, when it matters. The NCAA will never remove a player that has the potential to make them money. Dez Bryant lost his eligibility for the majority of the 2009 season for not disclosing his relationship with Deion Sanders. Several players from North Carolina lost eligibility this year for attending an agent party in Florida.
What’s the difference to the NCAA? Dollar signs. Those teams were not cash cows for the NCAA, so they had no problem dropping the hammer on them.
So what will it take for the NCAA will put its ethics before its bank account?