When I was writing about the principle of punishing NCAA-member institutions for gross violations, I felt like I was just writing copy. The subject feels tired and although I got a few hits for the article, I kept thinking to myself that folks would just shrug their shoulders over Okie State and if/how much it gets punished for transgressions committed against the NCAA system.
The fact is that the NCAA reeks so much that the public doesn’t necessarily get outraged over these recruiting violations and pay-for-play scandals anymore. From Tarheel Blog:
Beyond the reporting aspect, there is a clear and palatable fatigue with the NCAA over the pursuit of these types of violations. When UNC’s scandal cropped up three years ago it, along with Ohio State shortly thereafter and USC just prior constituted the first major programs to really get serious NCAA looks in quite some time. Maybe there was some thirst for blood and despite everyone knowing the NCAA system was broken, seeing major programs run through the ringer was worth good sport and nice material. Then the Miami investigation began to play out. Initially there was public disapproval of Miami’s behavior but that opinion eventually turned when it was discovered the NCAA had engaged in below the belt tactics. Suddenly no one cared what Miami did since NCAA corruption, long simmering just beneath the surface, finally boiled over. Overnight the NCAA truly became the villain losing whatever meager credibility it had left on the enforcement front.
I think the recent Miami scandal was really the turning point. We all knew the NCAA was corrupt beforehand but the ridiculous and underhanded tactics employed really brought it home. The NCAA succeeded in making Miami look sympathetic. The Miami Hurricanes, a program that was once so corrupt that SI ran an article calling for them to drop football. So corrupt at various times that even SEC teams looked clean in comparison. How unbelievable is that. I doubt that Miami didn’t commit those violations but if the investigating body can’t do its job cleanly, how are we trust its findings. Even the appearance of misconduct is enough to derail investigations.
The second point is that folks have started to question the fairness of pay-for-play and monetary restrictions on athletes, especially those in the revenue-producing sports. It’s part and parcel to what we’ve learned in the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA and from the past few years of conference realignment drama. The public now has a pretty fair understanding of the millions and millions of dollars that conferences and individual schools are making vs the negligible amount of money the revenue-producing athletes are receiving (in the form of scholarships) in comparison.
In addition to disdain for the NCAA, we’ve reached a point where players receiving benefits of some sort is now accepted as a way of life in major football programs. By extension, the advocacy for such benefits to be made legal continues to gain steam among those who wish to drop the amateurism facade.. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel supposedly signed thousands of autographs for money except no one could prove it. And even if the NCAA had, the general feeling seems to be that such a thing should be legal anyway. The corruption of the NCAA and its continued cashing in on the backs of college players has drained most of the outrage previously felt over major rules violations. The system has been judged to be broken and the desire to see players treated in a more equitable manner trumps any other consideration.
Texas A&M upped its earnings by millions in switching from the Big XII to the SEC. But here’s the kicker – their star quarterback Johnny Manziel was suspended for a half game even though the NCAA couldn’t prove that he’d profited off signing autographs. They suspended him even though they couldn’t prove any misconduct! This is the guy who has helped Texas A&M earn almost $37 million in media exposure.I don’t mind folks getting up in arms over players and coaches violating actual laws. Pitt got skewered pretty good a couple years ago over player arrests. It embarrassed the university so much that it ultimately played a factor in costing Dave Wannstedt his job. But Manziel making a little money off some autographs or Miami recruits getting some dough under the table or partying on a boat doesn’t seem like much when compared with the millions that the schools and conferences (and the NCAA itself) are making.
Let them have cake and eat it too. Wait, is that an NCAA violation? Who cares!