There are a lot of things the NCAA does that I don't agree with. For one, I've always been a proponent of the players in football and basketball actually being given their rightful piece of the billion dollar pie they've baked for the NCAA. Yes, I know, they get full scholarships and monthly stipends, but that's nothing compared to what those players have given the NCAA.
When it comes to punishments the NCAA hands out, I often feel as though they're on a witch hunt, kind of like what's going on with the agent probe spreading throughout college football today. It's a sentiment that Bryant Gumbel seems to agree with, as he had some pointed comments for the NCAA at the end of the latest Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO.
"Finally tonight, a few words about crime and punishment. I'm no legal expert, not by a long shot, but I do believe that driving drunk, robbing a convenience store, and hitting your girlfriend are all worse offenses than dealing with an agent. Most people would agree with that I think except, it seems, the folks in charge of college football.
How else to explain the fact that the USC Trojans are currently on NCAA probation while the Florida Gators are not, even though Florida's program has seen 27 different players arrested during the short tenure of Coach Urban Meyer. That's right, by NCAA standards, 27 arrests merit not so much as an official reprimand. But dealing with a prospective agent prematurely, as former Trojan Reggie Bush did, gets your program punished for four years.
It's not just about USC. NCAA investigations are ongoing at the Universities of Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina for the same kind of premature conversation with agents that Bush had. And it's not just about Florida. Players at Pittsburgh, Missouri, Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Southern Mississippi, UCLA and elsewhere have also been arrested this year. But all of those programs are, by NCAA standards, in full compliance.
Look, no one's naïve enough to think football's ever going to be played by a bunch of choirboys. It's not. But you'd think that NCAA officials could, at the very least, give coaches and athletic directors a reason to be as diligent about illegality as they are about eligibility - and right now they don't. Until and unless they do, the NCAA's idea of institutional control is anything but."
It's a very good point. Why is it that one is punishable and the other is not? In the Bush case, an entire program is being punished for the action's of one student. Yet, in Gainesville, 27 players have committed actual crimes and not even a slap on the wrist. Sure, players have been suspended for games, which hurts the team, but until the NCAA steps in and actually hands out real punishment for the programs then coaches have no real motivation to curb the behavior.
Now I now it's impossible for a coach to keep his eyes on every single player he has on his team, and things are going to happen. I'm not saying that if one player is dumb enough to pick up a DUI that scholarships should be taken away, but if there's a pattern of such behavior and arrests then there needs to be some kind of reprimand for the school and possibly the coach.
It might not be right, but at least it'd be fair.