We’ll start with the University of Southern California (USC) bust. You remember the school criminals: O.J. Mayo (received improper benefits) played college basketball for one year, skipped to the NBA (Memphis Grizzlies), and made $4,456,000 last season. Reggie Bush (received improper benefits) jumped to the NFL (New Orleans Saints) after his junior year, made $8,000,000 in 2010. Pete Carroll, Bush’s coach, left town while the NCAA investigation was under way, hired on as the Seattle Seahawks head coach, signed a five-year, $33 million contract.
Yes, these people are suffering, but that’s not all; in fact, that’s barely the beginning. USC sent back their 2004 Bowl Championship Series (BCS) trophy. I should put in here that the Associated Press announced they will continue to rank USC as the 2004 national champion. Still, the BCS Trophy cost $35,000 and looked pretty on the shelf. And now that bit of pretty is gone from the USC campus. USC has served one year of a two-year ban on bowl games, which will include, this year, the Pac 12 championship game. And the Trojans lose ten scholarships per year for three years. Plus, any upperclassman can transfer to any other football factory without having to sit out for a season. We have, finally, true collegiate free agency.
Now, is this something you can live with? Is going in front of a judge, pleading guilty to kidnapping an elementary school, and getting unsupervised probation for two months something you can live with?
And, yet, these sanctions are the most severe sanctions since 1987, when SMU football was flat-out banned for two years. SMU, by the way, is the only school that has ever been subject to that penalty.
But, let’s not gloss over the pain. These program-killing sanctions have profoundly wounded USC, to the extent that, according to USA Today, Trojans football only managed to sign a top-five national recruiting class this year. Hey, top-five is not number one. The pain of being somewhere in the top five and not number one can only be known by those who have endured it. And that’s not you, Pilgrim.
Like any world-class bureaucracy, the NCAA excels at enforcing minute infractions while allowing members of the collegiate-industrial complex to plunder and pillage. Follows is a pop quiz entitled “Is This an NCAA Rules Violation?” beginning with one from Bill Lubinger of The Plain Dealer (Cleveland).
“The team’s star linebacker is headed to the local banquet hall to speak [for free] at a pee-wee football dinner. He swings by the athletic offices, where the head coach notices he’s not wearing a tie. The coach pulls one from his drawer, tosses it to the linebacker, and wishes him good luck with the speech.
“Possible violation. A tie, or other dress clothes for that matter, could be bought by the student-athlete using the Student Athlete Fund — a fund provided by the NCAA to help them cover the difference between their scholarship and the cost to attend school. However, institutions are not allowed to loan dress clothes. If a school requires a suit/jacket and tie, the items would have to be bought through the fund. Even if the linebacker returned the tie after the event, it could still be viewed as a violation.”
NCAA rules prohibit fans from contacting prospective student-athletes. Fans, meaning those people who live in front of their television screens or anybody else. No contact includes Facebook and Twitter messages.
How about this: a high school football player sends a text message to an Arizona football coach about the game he played last night. The coach texts back, congratulating him. Is this an NCAA rules violation?
A coach is allowed to call a recruit one time per week. The coach calls, recruit answers, says hello, the call is dropped. Can the coach call back?
Then we have the booster situation. What is a booster? Well, you are a booster if you’ve ever belonged to any organization that promotes a college athletic program or if you, personally, have ever promoted the aforementioned in any way. If you’ve ever given money to the money-begging athletic department. If you’ve ever attended a college and was on a college athletic team. If you are a season-ticket holder. And, once you’re identified as a booster, you stay a booster indefinitely. Think of it as a collegiate “no fly” list.
The football team playing a road game checks in to a hotel the night before the big contest. Can the college purchase pay-per-view movies for their warriors?
Sure, but only the night before the game, only if it’s not porn, only if the good guy wins, and only if the NCAA is portrayed as omniscient provider of goodness.