The NCAA is a joke. All its sanctimonious talk about education and concern for the student-athlete is as empty as the promises that come from politicians who claim they have only the best interest of their constituents at heart but continue to serve special interests first and foremost.
UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun is found by his own school and the NCAA to have failed to create an atmosphere of compliance but is sitting right there on the bench as his team wins a national title.
At Tennessee, head basketball coach Bruce Pearl lied to NCAA investigators regarding his activities but remained the school’s coach until the impact of the investigation took a toll on the team’s results on the floor.
Oh, don’t forget former Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin’s strategy of committing secondary violations to raise the awareness level of Vol football among recruits. Of course, we all know he is now leading the program at USC, with its one less national title.
In other football news, we are all well too aware of the situation regarding Cecil Newton shopping his son to at least Mississippi State before Cam Newton decided to take his considerable talents to Auburn.
Auburn’s opponent in the national title game, Oregon, has its own issues with the NCAA regarding recruiting and a rental car being driven by defensive back Cliff Harris. Harris was ticketed for driving 118 MPH while driving a vehicle that had been rented by a university employee. It would have been hard for Harris to rent a car on his own. His license had been suspended.
Then we have Ohio State. Where does the analysis begin of their problems? Is it with former head coach Jim Tressel lying to protect his program or with the opportunistic nature of his players to cash in with people who were more than willing to let them? Does it start with an administration that works diligently to make sure key players are available for the Sugar Bowl game with Arkansas?
College athletics is broken very badly right now, and even though cheating has always been a part of the game, it is out of control today and threatens the very nature of what makes the sport so much fun.
In bicycle racing today it is assumed that whoever is winning is also cheating. If a player breaks a record in Major League Baseball, we all mentally put an asterisk next to it because of the rampant abuse of steroids.
Now we have college football, where it is wondered by many how long it will take the NCAA to strip Auburn of its national title as it continues to poke around the Newton affair.
Is this where the game is heading? Winning a title means having your integrity questioned?
It is not too late to fix the problems, but if the NCAA’s members don’t act fast, they will miss the window available to them.
The solution is pretty simple and has nothing to do with paying players, who already receive a pretty hefty financial payment in the form of a scholarship. Remember when a free education used to have value to the recipient?
Here is the solution: University presidents need to adopt a zero-tolerance policy with coaches who lie to the NCAA. You lie to the NCAA, you are fired. In addition, the university will sue you for damages that will include every dime you were paid for the past five years.
The NCAA also places a five-year ban on the coach working for a member institution or attending any events hosted by the NCAA.
Second, if you are a recruit or player who is found to have violated the rules, your eligibility is gone. You are not suspended for a few games...it is over.
Third, the NCAA needs to honor the majority of student-athletes who truly fit the high ideals professed by the group. The best way to accomplish this is to make life very difficult for schools that don’t adhere to the rules established by the membership.
Last, the NCAA needs to take a hard look at its rule book and do everything it can to simplify what has become the most absurd set of rules outside of the tax code.
If the governing body of college sports takes action soon, it can fix the problems that threaten the legitimacy of the major sports. If not, well, it might be best to wait a few years before handing out any national title trophies...