Behind the scenes of NCAA athletics

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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.

Big whoop.


5 responses to “Behind the scenes of NCAA athletics

  1. by Matt Moran

  2. Trevor Mickelson

    I agree completely with this article. The penalties given to athletes once they are in the pros are nothing but a slap on the wrist that, in the case of USC, only hurts players that are attending those schools when the penalties are enforced. Players at USC are currently ineligible for bowl games because of a player that was at the school while they were in high school. I agree with you that the NCAA needs to do something to make these penalties hurt the people who are involved. Otherwise they will continue to have coaches and players do what Calipari and Pete Carroll did and leave when they start to feel the heat of the NCAA.

  3. Exactly. It’s unbelievable that the current student-athletes and schools suffer the punishment for the actions of former coaches, players and professional agents who break NCAA rules. Some how, the NCAA has to find a way to punish those at fault, or else it will never be able to enforce its illegal recruiting rules effectively.

  4. I think what the NCAA does is hypocritical. Don’t get me wrong, the game needs to be cleaned up and there needs to be adjustment in how players and teams are punished. But come on, we all know EVERY team violates rules. Specially, when it comes to big time recruits like Newton. If Newton’s father committed a violation then that’s good the NCAA caught it. But there is so much that goes behind the scenes that it’s almost unfair to punish the people that do get caught. I guess if no one finds out it’s not illegal.

  5. I agree that it does happen for nearly every major school and conference, but still doesn’t make it right. Punishing Newton and Auburn right now would have sent a message to the rest of the nation that the NCAA is not messing around with these matters anymore. The same thing happened for steroids in baseball. It seem liked everyone was linked to steroids in the late 90s and early part of this decade, but it took the MLB six years after the peak of steroids to start suspending people. Performance enhancing drugs still exist in baseball, but it occurs much less often; It’s possible a similar result would happen with the NCAA and illegal recruiting.

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