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There is a city-wide wake happening in my backyard today.
You know those New Orleans funerals, the ones with the full marching bands blasting “When the Saints Go Marching In” through the main arteries of the city?
Okay, now replace big band jazz with morose sports radio hosts and UM alums and you’re getting closer to the mood in Miami. The swallowing humidity and unforgiving 90-something degree weather- that stays the same.
On the heels of what could potentially be the largest scandal in modern college athletics, I can’t help but wonder how many more of these curb stomps college football can continue to withstand.
In case you don’t live in Miami and therefore haven’t been devouring every detail of the story in the most masochistic manner possible, here’s a quick recap:
A former University of Miami booster, Nevin Shapiro, who is now serving a 20 year sentence in federal prison for a $930 million Ponzi scheme, claims he treated UM players to sex parties, nightclub outings, cars and other gifts, in exchange for attending the school. In all, Shapiro told Yahoo! Sports he provided such services 72 football players, including a number of current players and NFL stars, as well as other athletes at Miami from 2002 to 2010.
Now I know there’s a certain amount of geographical bias at play here, the kind that makes national events seem so much more pertinent when they’re also on the front page of your local newspaper.
Just as we in Miami enjoyed poking fun at the vested one and laughed at the idea of the NCAA sending in S.W.A.T teams to Reggie Bush’s house on Heisman reconnaissance missions, people all over the country can now enjoy lobbing humorous grenades in South Florida’s direction.
And that’s fair.
But beyond the suspensions, lap dances, abortions and death penalties—the talking points everyone seems to be focusing on—what stands out to me is just how high the pollution level has to be in the athletic cesspool that is the NCAA.
By this point, we all know that the academic element of the NCAA is a farce. At big schools, most football players take liberal arts majors filled with classes taught by professors who the coaches have an “understanding” with.
Inordinate amounts of money are spent on stadium, training facilities and of course coach salaries, especially compared to professors or worse, adjunct professors.
But that is merely the tip of the iceberg.
You see, if schools like USC and UM, two of the most, if not the most, desirable schools in the countries — thanks to the combination of beaches, beauties, climate and nightlife – if they have to offer financial incentives to highly-touted high school athletes, then what do you think every other D-1 school is doing?
As long as the NCAA allows boosters such direct access to the schools and the players, then nothing will change.
Similarly, should the NCAA continue to focus solely on profits—example 1.a: allowing suspended players to play in cash cow bowl games—then it will get what it deserves.
And either way, the players end up getting a raw deal. What else is new?
With the current system, players either accept the fact that they will generate the school millions without seeing a dime or make the mistake of accepting the tainted money and risk it all.
Or, a classic case of being stuck between a rock and an Athletic Director’s head.
Is the answer to pay the athletes? Maybe, maybe not.
That only opens up the can of worms further, by giving even more of an advantage to larger programs like Texas or Michigan.
But one thing is clear: this isn’t working.
Coming down on one school, whether it is UM or USC, is about as effective as congress coming down on one bank to stop future financial crises.
In the big picture it changes nothing. The only thing other Athletic Directors or bank CEOs think in response is, “At least it wasn’t us this time.”
- Thomas Johnson
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