It is unfortunate when incidents of impropriety occur in the realm of college athletics. Reputable programs that have held an edge over the competition have been exposed to keep a competitive edge. As many of us know, universities across the nation highlight the success of their sports programs during the recruitment process. An example is how Ohio State and Alabama are quick to promote the social climate of their campus to attract new students. Unfortunately, the universities marketability sometimes takes precedence over its integrity and issues of non-compliance begin to develop. This was observed some years ago with the scandal surrounding the University of Southern California (USC) and more recently at Louisville University.
The USC incident involved third-party intrusion into the athletic program. Football player Reggie Bush and star basketball player O.J. Mayo had been contacted by individuals when being recruited and offered gifts of money and cars to sign letters of intent. This is where the dark side of athletics comes into play. Upon being cited for violating the NCAA standard for recruiting high school and community college athletes, USC paid a heavy price. Both head coach Pete Carroll and the school’s Athletic Director, Mike Garrett resigned. Reggie Bush forfeited the Heisman Trophy Award, college football’s highest honor, while O.J. Mayo entered the NBA Draft early without incident. USC was hit with heavy sanctions, and the football team was forced to relinquish its National Championship for the 2004 season. Their basketball team was forced to give up all its wins for the 2007/2008 season and was banned from post season play.
In Louisville, the scandal surrounding its basketball program involved players being recruited by the university with gifts of sex and money. With the approval of the head basketball coach, Rick Pitino, and other coaches for the university, players were taken to strip clubs and given cash through representatives of Adidas. The result involved criminal charges levied against several university coaches and company representatives of Adidas. Legendary coach, Rick Pitino, was terminated and the University of Louisville issued a self-imposed post season ban for 2016. Other university coaches either resigned or were terminated. The loyalists who supported the programs suddenly found themselves at a crossroad involving integrity versus under-handed practices.
I believe one way to remedy the problem of these types of scandals is to pay the athletes. Third party agents tend to operate in the shadows because, in their mind, the lure for most players being recruited is via money. What the NCAA needs to do is create a standard compensation package for all college athletes. The players would be paid based upon the range from freshman to seniors in college. This would minimize the incidents of corruption centered on money payoffs.
As a friend of mine once stated so eloquently, “If you want to get rid of the rats, you’ve got to first get rid of the cheese.”