NCAA rules flex when football, money is on the line


With seemingly a new college football scandal every month, it seems like the sport has never been more corrupt then it is now. The latest being the University of Miami scandal involving 72 players and millions of dollars from 2002 to 2010 involving one booster.

It brings up the argument of paying players on top of their full ride scholarships that they already receive. It looks like since the NCAA is a total reactionary entity that can’t seem to keep dibs on who’s doing wrong until way after the fact, schools should just pay them anyway.

I like to compare it to prohibition in the U.S. when they banned alcohol in the 1920’s. Even though it was illegal, people who wanted to drink found a way to get their alcohol one way or another. While prohibition worked in reducing the amount of liquor consumed, it stirred up the growth of underground, organized and widespread crime when it came to getting alcohol. Similar to the NCAA and their underground, organized and possibly widespread crime when it comes to giving players benefits that are not legal.

Why not pay the players since it is already happening under the table anyway? Because it’s against the law of the NCAA. Instead of doing that, why don’t you cut down on these illegal activities in the first place.

When they follow up on a scandal and hand out penalties, it seems like they do it when it is convenient for them. Case in point, Ohio State.

Last year, five Ohio State players were suspended five games for selling memorabilia in the form of championship rings and uniforms and selling their autographs for tattoos. Basically, they profited off selling their own belongings and the non-profit NCAA had a problem with that. That’s not even the worst part of the story. Even though the NCAA handed down their suspensions before the Buckeyes’ Sugar Bowl game vs. Arkansas, the suspended players were somehow eligible for the game.

NCAA spokesman Kevin Lennon disputed the suggestion that they players were not suspended because it didn’t want to dilute a big time bowl game.

“The notion that the NCAA is selective with its rules enforcement is a tired myth rooted in bias and personal perception,” he said in a statement.

“Money is not a motivator or factor as to why one school would get a particular decision versus another,” he added. “Any insinuation that revenue from bowl games in particular would influence NCAA decisions is laughable because schools and conferences receive that revenue, not the (NCAA).”

I did find that according to a December 23rd, 2010 column on Sports Illustrated’s website by Stewart Mandel, that even though the Sugar Bowl is a BCS property, the NCAA still receives $12,000 of the proceeds.

That’s fine, but the laughable part is that these players were allowed the play in a game when suspensions were already levied and they were found to break NCAA rules. That’s like a parent saying to their kid, “we know you got caught with drugs and we are going to ground you for six months, but you can go out with your friends for the next week because there is a big party that we know you don’t want to miss on Saturday night. But as soon as that party is over, you’re grounded.”

“This policy (not suspending players for bowl games) was developed and implemented by the Division I membership in 2004,” a statement from the NCAA said. “It allows for suspending a reinstatement condition in specific instances involving NCAA championships or bowl games. It recognizes the unique opportunity these events provide at the end of a season, and they are evaluated differently from a withholding perspective for student-athlete reinstatement. In the Ohio State situation, the facts are consistent with the established policy.”

Also, Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan appealed to Ohio State to try to push the NCAA suspensions back to 2011 in order to “preserve the integrity” of his game. College football; where suspended players need to play in order to “preserve the integrity” of the game.

Ohio State has since vacated all wins during the 2010 season.

I question the NCAA saying they are not selective with its rules enforcement. During the same time that the Ohio State situation is going on, LSU running back Stevan Ridley was suspended for the Cotton Bowl by the NCAA after an academic violation. LSU appealed the decision and actually won so Ridley played in the game anyway. What makes Ridley’s situation different than Ohio State’s and why was Ridley originally suspended for his bowl game, but the Ohio State players were not?

All I ask for is consistency with your decisions.

Yahoo! Sports did a tremendous job on uncovering the Miami story. 11 months of work led to one of the most thorough investigations you will see.

Apparently the NCAA had been on Miami’s trail for the past five months doing their own work. However, the public first learned about this story because Yahoo! broke the story, not from the NCAA. Usually it takes six to seven months for the NCAA to finish their work. My question is if it wasn’t for Charles Robinson and his reporting, when would we have known about Miami’s transgressions?

The strange thing is that the sport has never been more popular. Kind of like steroids in baseball. There were whispers about Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, but we all turn our backs to it and enjoyed the ride. This is a little different since getting these extra benefits don’t make you a better player on the field unlike performance enhancing drugs.

Just like every baseball player of the steroid era is presumed guilty until they are proven innocent, the same can be said about college athletics at big-time schools. How far does it go and how much money is exchanging hands? Just in the past 18 months, USC, Ohio State, North Carolina, Miami, Alabama, Auburn, Oregon, Michigan, LSU and Georgia Tech have been investigated or sanctioned.

If players are getting under the table benefits, then we have an NFL or NBA-lite with a diluted skill level.

The true amateurism of college athletics is crumbling. But can you call them true amateurs if they are getting compensated with scholarships in the first place?