For decades, alumni have donated money to their respective universities to fund athletic programs. But how long ago did this money start being used to illegally recruit players?
Since as long as I can remember, NCAA coaches have been soliciting athletes. Grades and test scores are fake, players being paid to play, etc. But not until recent years had this information been exposed to the public, and the NCAA is not responding like it should.
This year, there has been speculation that Auburn quarterback Cam Newton had been offered six-figures to play football at Mississippi State, before electing to attend Auburn. Former Mississippi State player Kenny Rogers told ESPN that Newton’s father, Cecil, asked two Mississippi State coaches for $180,000 for his son to play football at their school.
Mississippi State officials said that university employees did everything right in a situation like this, but now one wonders how much Auburn put up for Newton’s services? Today, the NCAA ruled that Newton’s father was the one who broke the rules, and Newton will be eligible to play in this week’s Southeastern Conference championship game. The NCAA said “we do not have sufficient evidence that Cam Newton or anyone from Auburn was aware of this activity.”
The NCAA, however, went on to say that the investigation is still open.
Of course it is. The NCAA can just find another athlete guilty after he graduates and is making millions in professional sports, and then penalize the school.
It happened with Reggie Bush, who was recently stripped of the Heisman Trophy he had won at USC in 2005 based on allegations of accepting $290,000 worth of gifts while at school. USC is ineligible for bowl games in 2010 and 2011, and loses 30 scholarships those years.
What does Bush care? He is in the NFL making millions. Same with NBA star Derrick Rose and Memphis. Rose allegedly faked his SAT scores to get into Memphis, and head coach John Calipari was allegedly assisting Rose’s brothers with living and travel expenses. Rose spent one year at Memphis before being drafted first overall by the Chicago Bulls in 2008.
Rose and Calipari received no penalty. Calipari booked for Kentucky, and Rose barely acknowledged the scandal. The NCAA ruled last May that Memphis will be forced to forfeit its 38 wins from the 2007-2008 season, when Rose led the team to the national championship game.
Big whoop. Those wins happened already. Taking away wins on a piece a paper does nothing. Why doesn’t the NCAA do something more?
This is the second major illegal recruiting scandal involving Calipari. If the NCAA really wants to send a message, suspend him from coaching for a year. The next time a player gets caught receiving extra benefits, rule him ineligible for a season.
With all the money passing hands behind college athletics, the NCAA had a chance to send a message with Newton before Auburn goes on to win the SEC and then play for a national title next January. Instead, it made another mistake, and don’t be surprised when five years from now a story develops about how Newton was paid and Auburn will be forced to forfeit all its wins from this season.