Listen, we all know what's going on in college football. Scandal this, controversy that, professional agent here, memorabilia selling there, and blah blah blah. It's getting old, and its getting old quickly.
In the last three years, there have been several dozen reports that deal with violating the NCAA rule book all the way from the East Coast (Miami) to the West Coast (Oregon).
Programs around the nation are now struggling to find a way to keep their names out of the papers when it comes to infractions. Its almost as if there is a reason why players, coaches, and programs take risks on breaking the rules.
Oh wait a second, its because there is a reason, and it really isn't a hard one for the NCAA to figure out. They can just look at the leagues around them, like the MLB for example.
During the horribly tarnished years of players juicing up to California governor status, the MLB finally got around to making it so you would be banned for 50 games on your first offense. Way much harder to say yes to the 'roids once that rule was set in. The NCAA should do the same.
Make it easier for the players to say "no" to that car. Force the players to think not twice, but at least three times of taking those $100 bills they're flashed. If the NCAA installs these next five rules, I highly doubt that teams will find themselves in the midst of investigation in the upcoming decade.
First and foremost, I'm tired of hearing about how these athletes don't get paid. They get paid alright, but its not in cash or check, its much more valuable than that.
What they receive is a free college scholarship, a free education, a free opportunity to better themselves, and what a better way to disrespect that gift than to take free extra benefits.
If not mandated by schools, it should be mandated by the NCAA. A university gives an athlete a full ride, and even shutting other exceptional students out just so the athlete can get in, and the player is going to turn around and throw a scandal back at them? Doesn't seem right to me, and I bet it doesn't seem right to a lot of people.
If student-athletes were to sign an agreement that stated something along the lines of "I will pay back my scholarship in full if I don't abide by the major NCAA rules."
I throw in the word "major" because I don't want to rope the athlete that gets caught accepting the free slice of pizza, but instead the ones taking free cars, large sums of cash and anything else that a hypothetical Ponzi schemer would offer.
Any head coach in the NCAA who has information about players taking improper benefits and doesn't report them should never be able to head coach at the college level. Ever.
This goes back to the point of paying back a scholarship in the sense that they are disregarding the opportunity the university has given them.
The employment, especially of the head coaching job, is nearly a once in a lifetime chance for many people, so why would a coach gamble with his job by not reporting players and/or boosters? It's because they get let off the hook too easily, that's why.
Sure, Jim Tressel was forced into resignation, but he could go out and land another job in a year or two if his heart desired. There aren't a boat load of coaches convicted of knowing about infractions yet, but once the current investigation of the scandal-ridden universities are done, I wouldn't be surprised if there are enough lying head coaches to count on more than two hands.
Even if we do push the 'respect' factor aside, why would the NCAA want them around anyway? What kind of image is portrayed with a caught offender standing on the sideline of a prestigious school? How could the NCAA think that their image would improve by being so passive with people who are supposed to be role models to the community?
It just doesn't make sense for the NCAA to put offenders back in the same place where they once lied already. It also wouldn't make sense for a head coach to keep quiet about violations with his job on the line.
Every sport within a university has at least one booster club, and some, like football, could have a plethora of boosters. Every once in a while we see booster clubs get suspended, but sometimes money can still be dealt out of the banned group and put in the teams fund.
Sometimes they're caught by the NCAA, and something tells me that there are a lot more cases where the NCAA doesn't catch them.
That is why the NCAA should suspend boosters from not just the offending group, but all booster organizations for at least one season. This may not seem fair since some groups are playing by the rules, but it is the clearest message that is possible to send to the teams and those donating.
If one booster is suspended, then all well, the team will just head to another group, but not if this rule is implemented. Programs will be forced to watch the boosters money exchanging even closer if the threat of no money from any outside group is in play.
Some booster clubs that play by the rules will say this is unfair, just like the extra benefits their players are getting from the violating boosters. Their time and support should still be accepted since it is legal, right?
It still will be, just not in the following year. The booster can still raise the money throughout the year, just it will have to be given once the ban is lifted.
Boosters main objectives are to take care of the school they appreciate, so this rule will not only force programs to watch the money exchanges, but it will also let illegal boosters know that what they do could damage the team for a whole year.
Let's jump right into the example: If Nick Saban's assistant coaches, Jeff Stoutland and Joe Pannunzio (both former Miami coaches), were found by the NCAA to play a role in the violations, they should still be suspended even though they are not at Miami anymore.
Why should this be even though it would effect a school that is not attached to the dilemma? Because the NCAA should uphold the image of a zero-tolerance program when it comes to tarnishing any school's image.
It also wouldn't seem right to have coaches cheat at one school, and then jump aboard on another program just to avoid the ramifications. That would be like a player in the NFL feeling the heat of being suspended for an illegal hit and just demanding a trade to another team to avoid the suspension.
The point I'm trying to make here is that it comes down to the individual. The team may suffer because of someone's crucial mistake, but is the NCAA just going to let fraudulent assistants run out of town when they start feeling the heat?
If an assistant moves to a different school, they shouldn't be able to avoid the punishment that they would have received at their former school.
If we are dealing with a high-caliber player, this will probably be the biggest scare tactic available.
Suspending players for the NFL season, for example, like Terrelle Pryor doesn't seem like it would make players too fearful to not take that extra benefit.
Joining with the NFL and making the player wait one year until they can enter the league would be their best bet to get big players to think hard about the decisions they make.
It will hurt their draft stock, it will send their career one season in the hole, but it won't take them so far out of the picture where it seems too cruel. Options that the athlete could still seek would be any other league, like Arena Football League or Canadian Football League, or spend their off time working out.
Either way, they can still hop onto an NFL team; it just may hurt their professional career in the short term and, in some cases, maybe even the long term.
This rule would definitely be a stretch due to the shot the players' pro careers would take, but if that's what it takes for college athletes to analyze what they are really doing, then it might be their best choice.