College athletics is taking a major hit in the public eye recently, no more so than the scandals at Ohio State and at USC. Both institutions are facing possible sanctions by the NCAA, thus causing all with an eye on college football to wonder what is next.
While many believe that the individuals at the center of the controversies are solely to blame, perhaps the NCAA and the member schools are as much to blame for these issues as those who are punished for them. Perhaps it is time to evaluate the NCAA on its methodology of governance and the effectiveness of the policies and procedures regarding all aspects of college sports.
College football seems to be at the forefront of the controversies. With the mega-contracts for top-tier coaches, conference alliances with television networks and the Bowl Championship Series, football has become the biggest revenue generator for NCAA member schools.
Auburn University and Cam Newton played their part in the world of scandal this past fall. Newton's father was determined to have masterminded a pay-for-play scheme at rival Mississippi State. Newton's alleged call to inform the Bulldogs coaching staff that he would attend Auburn reportedly had Newton saying he wanted to attend MSU, but the money was too great at Auburn.
According to NCAA bylaw 12.1.1,
An individual loses amateur status and thus shall not be eligible for intercollegiate competition in a particular sport if the individual a) Uses his or her athletics skill (directly or indirectly) for pay in any form in that sport; b) Accepts a promise of pay even if such pay is to be received following completion of intercollegiate athletics participation...
The NCAA investigation found no money trail linking Newton to Auburn, or Mississippi State, therefore, no sanctions have been passed down...yet. Still, the lack of follow-through makes many wonder about the NCAA's ability to follow their own rules. Stay tuned.
Jim Tressel resigned as head coach at Ohio State, after it was revealed that he lied about having knowledge of players who had accepted extra benefits. The NCAA ruled that the players would be ineligible for the first five games of the coming season, rather than the bowl game yet to be played last season.
To date, it has been learned that as many as 50 players have received extra benefits, to include trading memorabilia for tattoos, cash and in some cases cars. Several players, including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, have had questionable dealings with local car dealerships.
Earlier this week, Pryor informed the world that he would not return to Ohio State for his senior season. No explanation was given for the decision, although it would seem the decision to leave school has something to do with speculation of Pryor's hand in the ongoing NCAA probe at Ohio State.
Seemingly, what is at the center of most NCAA rule-breaking is money. The schools, coaches, conferences and the NCAA get it, and the players want it. Not every college football player comes from a desperate home situation, but the annual money grab in college football should be shared with those who actually play the game.
Some would say that to institute a pay-for-play system in college sports would be the death of amateurism. Some believe that the $20,000 to $50,000 scholarships the players receive are more than enough compensation for their services on the field.
One would be foolhardy to surmise that the NCAA would be capable of regulating such a practice. Recalling the Reggie Bush fiasco, it took the NCAA several years to determine that Bush accepted extra benefits. It took even longer to levy sanctions against USC, and Bush.
The Heisman Trust took back the trophy won by Bush and the NCAA vacated the National Championship won by USC in 2005. Yes, 2005. That means an investigation, deliberation and action took a mere five years to complete.
No matter the school, or player, money seems to be the genesis for the infractions that run rampant in college football today. Closer scrutiny of the billions of dollars taken home by the NCAA might reveal that they are as culpable for what ails college sports as the perpetrators of the crimes.