Commentary: University of NCAA Receives the Death Penalty

From Oregon and LSU using Willie Lyles’ “recruiting agency” to Ohio State’s “Tattoo-gate” college football is now being ravaged by rules breakers and cheaters from coast to coast.  You can add Miami to that list of big time college football programs that will be facing serious sanctions sometime soon.  With news coming out this week about Miami’s indiscretions how can the NCAA regain control over the alleged amateurism in college football?

Some experts believe making an example out of one program will work and the “U” is the program that they have in mind and let’s face it Miami is an easy target.  If allegations made by Nevin Shapiro are true then Miami is the NCAA’s definition of repeat offender which opens them up for the harshest penalty in college sports, the loss of their program for a year (the “death penalty”).

According to NCAA rules, “An institution shall be considered a ‘repeat’ violator if the Committee on Infractions finds that a major violation has occurred within five years of the starting date of a major penalty.”  The most notable of the repeat offenders is the SMU football program of the early 80’s, the only football program to ever receive the “death penalty”.

Other more recent repeat offenders include Pete Carrols’ Trojans teams which were sanctioned for major NCAA violations in 2001 and paying Reggie Bush by 2004.  They got a 2 year postseason ban, lost 30 scholarships, and lost their 2004 BCS Title (no “death penalty”).  So if USC did not get the death penalty how can you give it to Miami?

Let’s pretend that the NCAA is an actual university with a major football program and all 120 FBS schools are their players.  Over the past two seasons you have three big name players (let’s call them Ohio State, Georgia Tech, and Georgia) trading memorabilia for extra benefits, two players taking trips paid by agents (Oklahoma State and North Carolina), players we know are getting money under the table and just have not proved it yet (entire SEC except Vanderbilt and the entire Big 12 except Iowa St.), and one player who is spending entirely too much time in the weight room (Michigan).   Add to it the fact that only 17 of your 120 players have never violated the rules and I think that the NCAA has a complete lack of institutional control.  Also consider the fact that this type of behavior has continued to happen since 1953 and it is safe to throw the repeat offender tag on this program.

So, again I ask, how can the NCAA regain control over the alleged amateurism in college football?  It is a simple answer really, they can’t.  The NCAA has shown an inability to stop boosters from giving and players from taking extra benefits throughout college football.  It appears to me that the NCAA is a repeat offender and that they have lost institutional control.  According to NCAA rules and regulations this makes the entire NCAA eligible for the “death penalty” and honestly that is what needs to happen.  They have allowed the programs to become bigger than the institution of amateur college athletics and the only way to regain control is to suspend all of college football for an entire season.

There will be an uproar from the administration, players, and coaches but it is partially their fault for not taking responsibility for their actions off of the field.  You will hear an outcry from the fans and boosters but they are the ones willing to do anything for a win, including cheat.  The big time TV companies will sing a chorus of disapproval, but without their financial impact teams would not be so willing to cheat so as to get the money from a major TV contract.  Finally the NFL would be outraged that their free minor league system is no longer in place even though they continuously allow the players who break the rules in the minor league to turn pro without any punishment.

I know this is a bit much and it will never happen.  However, the NCAA needs to find a way to get control to protect the sanctity of amateurism in college football.  Otherwise they can get ready for more cheaters and more scandals.

C.J. Hurt covers college football for MemphiSport. You can follow him via Twitter @churtj09.

 

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