NCAA Scandals of Improper Benefits: Will Coaches and Players Ever Learn?

Matt RyanCorrespondent IIMarch 9, 2011

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 04:  Head coach Jim Tressel of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks on against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on January 4, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The NCAA has had countless examples of scandals thorough its history. Their have been examples of point shaving scandals in college basketball dating back to the 1950's. The issue of improper benefits has received a lot of attention in recent years due to the Reggie Bush and USC controversy. This same issue brought the death penalty to the SMU Football program during the 1980's and revoked the University of Miami of its powerhouse status in the 1990's. In college basketball, it turned Jerry Tarkanian's Runnin Rebels from a national powerhouse to a punching bag for the Big West Conference, and dramatically changed the legacy of Michigan's Fab Five.

However, in the last week it seems like controversial NCAA scandals have made just as many headlines as Charlie Sheen and Muammar Gaddafi.

It began with a report that the NCAA was looking to see if the Oregon Football team improperly recruited running back Lache Seastrunk. Seastrunk allegedly received $25,000 for signing with Oregon.

Yesterday, Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel was suspended for the first two games of the 2011 season and fined $250,000 for lying to the university about his knowledge of none other than a scandal involving improper benefits. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four of his Buckeye teammates were suspended in December for the first five games of the 2011 season after selling their bowl game memorabilia and receiving improper benefits from a tattoo parlor.

Then, today with the Big 12 Basketball tournament beginning tomorrow, Baylor freshman Perry Jones has been suspended indefinitely for you guessed it improper benefits. Jones will likely go in the top ten of the NBA Draft this June and may never again suit up for the Baylor Bears.

It's hard to beleive all these allegations can surface in a week. What's more difficult to understand is how all these alleged incidents are still occurring after the events of the last 12 months. 

Heisman winner Cam Newton allegedly tried to receive $180,000 from Mississippi State during his recruiting process. Cam was ruled ineligible for a few days, but the decision was quickly overturned when the NCAA determined his father Cecil was the one trying to get the $180,000 and that Cam had no knowledge of the actions. Auburn won the BCS Championship and some people feel these allegations could resurface.

SEC Football experienced more than just Cam Newton scandal in 2010. This summer Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green, Alabama defensive Marcel Dareus and South Carolina tight end Wesley Saunders all received suspensions related to improper benefits. Green was suspended four games for selling his bowl game memorabilia. Dareus was suspended two games for receiving improper benefits related to contacting an agent at a party in Miami.  Wesley Saunders was suspended indefinitely after he had improper contact with an agent at that same Miami party and improper benefits from a Columbia hotel.  

Tennessee head basketball coach Bruce Pearl was suspended for eight SEC conference games for lying to NCAA investigators about improper recruiting practices after he had three recruits at his home for dinner. Pearl also lost $1.5 million in salary, has had his use of campus recruiting practices restricted and Tennessee could still face more penalties.

The Memphis basketball program was placed on three years probation and had to vacate its 2008 NCAA championship game appearance. The NCAA made Derrick Rose retroactively ineligible after his SAT was ruled invalid. It is alleged that Rose had someone else take his SAT for him.

After more than four years of allegations that keep resurfacing in the media every few months, the USC Trojans football team received heavy sanctions because of improper benefits that Reggie Bush received. USC was forced to vacate two wins from the 2004 season and all of their victories from the 2005 season. The Trojans were banned from a postseason play for two seasons and lost 30 scholarships over the next three seasons. Bush later vacated the Heisman Trophy, USC athletic director Mike Garret resigned and Pete Caroll left the program to go coach the Seattle Seahawks. This scandal has put a large asterisk on one of the most exciting teams and arguably the greatest game in college football history.

Most of these incidents mentioned above have happened within the last year. One would think that coaches and players alike would be more cautious of issues such as improper benefits because of all the outcomes of the scandals at schools such as USC and Auburn. Evidently, the events in recent days show that this is far from the case. It seems inevitable that these scandals will continue to occur as long as their is an NCAA.