This posting deals with all student athletes. I want to open a discussion on the treatment of student athletes by the NCAA. The NCAA has imposed sanctions on such famous college football programs as USC, Penn State, and Ohio State. In basketball, the fabled University of Connecticut basketball program is under sanctions. Ohio State will be out of the running for any bowl, or a Big Ten or national championship for 2012 because of improper player sales of memorabilia and players being paid by a booster for attending a charity event and for hours not worked at part-time jobs. USC’s violations involved Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo. Among the findings concerning Bush, the NCAA detailed 18 specific instances of violations by the running back and his family. Based largely on his relationship with several marketing agents, some of the violations include multiple cash payments, a house for Bush’s parents, an automobile, airfare, and hotel stays. The NCAA detailed at least 12 instances of violations by Mayo, based on his relationship with a sports agency. Those violations included the receipt of cash, airfare, meals, training sessions, and merchandise. Penn State due, to the Sandusky scandal, was stripped of all wins from 1998 to 2011 as well as a post-season ban for 2012. The Connecticut men’s basketball program was accused of repeated recruiting violations and will lose scholarships and is banned from the 2013 post-season.
I am not arguing that these violations did not occur or that the universities should not be punished. My argument is that some of the sanctions imposed on the universities punish many innocent student athletes. Some of the typical sanctions involve loss of scholarships, reduced recruiting time, fining the university, taking away from the university past wins and championships, and banning the university from post season play and a possible national championship. Most of the time these universities are punished for recruiting violations committed in past years by alumni and assistant coaches. The number of players guilty of accepting these gifts is very small. Many times these players are the ones that wind up in pro ball. Look at Bush and Mayo. In the Sandusky case no player was involved.
Over 95% of the student athletes never play pro ball. Their senior year marks the end of their playing careers. When they leave college they will enter the workplace not the athletic stadium. The NCAA allows without penalty any student who is a member of one of these teams being punished to transfer to another school. Does this solve the problem? The answer is no. Yes, three or four of the best athletes who are in demand and eventually will probably turn pro do transfer. But what about the 95% that will not turn pro and can’t transfer? Let’s look at what this will mean to a student in his senior year that will not have the opportunity to take part in a bowl game or be able to compete for a national championship. For three years this student athlete has worked hard sacrificing his body for his university. Now, in his senior year, his goal of competing in the post-season is taken away from him. The borderline pro player loses his opportunity to impress professional scouts with his play in the post-season. Is this fair to the student athlete? Yes, the school should be punished but why is an innocent student being punished? Would you punish a child for a parent’s crime? In the next posting, I will examine some ways to punish the school without punishing the student athlete.
Please send me any suggestions you have for solving the problem of punishing the university without punishing the innocent student athlete. To be continued.