It's Time To Abolish The NCAA

08/17/2011 12:30 PM

Well, well, well.. Another day, another scandal. Yahoo Sports has uncovered an avalanche of potential NCAA violations at the University of Miami, allegations serious enough to completely dismantle the Hurricane dynasty.
(On a side note, The University of Louisville has to be a little nervous about this Miami stuff because a handful of the allegations involve assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt. U of L has chosen to take the high road to this point. The C-J’s Rick Bozich wrote that U of L needs to address the situation, and I agree.)
My take on the big picture is this: It’s time to abolish the NCAA. There’s no use for it anymore. The Sporting News’ Matt Hayes thinks the Miami scandal is the beginning of the end for the NCAA. And if you really think about it, what purpose does the NCAA serve? They don’t govern. When has the NCAA ever uncovered a scandal? Rules violations are usually made public by a media investigation, and the source is often a disgruntled ex-employee, player or booster. I’ve always believed that if the NCAA really had wanted to clean up college sports, they could.
You mean to tell me with the billions of dollars the NCAA makes they couldn’t place some semblance of an enforcement staff that travels around the country monitoring and investigating the goings-on at the schools with major sports programs? Of course they could. But that requires time, money and commitment, and it also would affect the bottom line. They’ll host public forums and they’ll give a bunch of lip service, but in essence, what do they ever really do? Sure, if you get caught, they’ll slap a bunch of sanctions on you to save face, but why do things keep getting to that point? The NCAA’s motto: Don’t ask, don’t tell. Just wait until the story breaks, and then start the mad P.R. scramble game that institutions play to try and make sure their hands aren’t associated with the cookie jar.
The fact that there’s even discussions about conference expansion in light of all the recent scandals tells you all you need to know about where the NCAA’s head is at.
Cheating has been running rampant for years, despite what all the naive idealists might have told you back in the day. And it’s not going to change under the current model, no matter what window-dressing the NCAA tries to install. College sports has become identical to corporate America, where the competition for the mega-dollars constantly tempts CEO’s and company presidents to take shortcuts to get ahead. Often times these shortcuts lead to short-term success. And if School A is taking shortcuts yet getting players, winning games and producing revenue, if you’re School B, you better find a way to keep up or you’re in the unemployment line.
The players are the least of my concerns. These are 18, 19 and 20-year old kids. If I’m a college athlete struggling to make ends meet, or with a family living in poverty, and I look up and see administrators and coaches getting millions of dollars off my hard work, why shouldn’t I take a little extra cash if it comes my way? The so-called adults offering the extra benefits and the coaches and administrators who turn the other cheek are the ones who are supposed to know better.
That brings me to the media. Right now it’s vogue to rip the NCAA like I’m doing right now in this space, and you can find a million NCAA-bashing stories floating around today with a simple click of the mouse. But where were all these calls for reform five, ten years ago? Yes, the media (and I’m part of that) has fed into the frenzy. We got caught up in it. We see the fanaticism involved with sports and we pounce. We pounce for the competition. We pounce for the recognition. We pounce to save our jobs in what has become a dog-eat-dog market. And let’s face it. Some of us really don’t want to see the house crumble. We love the games too much. We love the personalities. We love the storylines.
The new age of media has changed the game completely, but thankfully we still have great journalists committed to doing the hard-core investigative stuff like Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports. It was as thorough a job as I’ve ever seen, and while I think there is a place for the blogs and fan sites, this is also why we we have to keep traditional journalism around.
I also think that Matt Hayes’ column makes a lot of sense. Let’s just quit with the pretense of college athletics. Let the 50 or so BCS schools who are out to make money break off on their own and govern themselves. Let them play by their own rules. ‘College’ athletics has been a professional operation for a long time. The only difference is that the people doing the majority of the work and controlling the outcomes (the players) aren’t the ones who are getting paid. Maybe that would change if the NCAA is done away with.
The NCAA has played the scapegoat game for years. The eligibility of players has been sacrificed. Coaches have been blackballed. But with this Miami case, it looks like the chickens have finally come home to roost, and people might finally realize what the NCAA really stands for: No Credibility At All.

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