NCAA where are you???

Posted: March 24, 2011 in NCAA

I’m not sure how many of you are avid collegiate sports fans but I personally love everything about collegiate sports, sometimes to the point of liking it more than professional. The players are more passionate, the fans are more passionate and the traditions run so deep some babies are born alumni. To say the landscape of collegiate athletics has changed in the last decade or so would be a strong understatement and the behaviour of their coaches and athletic director’s needs to right the ship.

The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) is the almighty over seeing power of collegiate sport. They determine the rules, who rules, and how you will follow them and they do whatever they feel is best for collegiate athletics. Many people, including myself, feel that the NCAA needs a drastic makeover however that’s another topic for another day. The issue I want to focus on is the behaviour of college coaches and their school’s AD’s specifically with respect to their recruiting practices and team management. In the past few years many coaches have been cited/fined for rule infractions with respect to recruiting talent for their teams, most notably: Urban Meyer (Secondary Recruiting Violations, NBC SPORTS), Lane Kiffin (Recruiting violations, ESPN), Bruce Pearl (Recruiting Violations), Jim Tressel (Information disclosure on improper benefits, ESPN) and Pete Carroll (Improper benefits, ESPN). These coaches and their university’s need to open their eyes and see what they’re doing to the sport although it might already be too late.

Recruiting violations by the NCAA for whatever sport (seems to be mainly for football and basketball) can range from almost nothing to something as big and obvious as a free house. It can be as small as bumping into a prospective athlete and doing no more than saying hello to as big as hosting a barbeque in your backyard on a summer night (see Bruce Pearl). With the NCAA laying out very specific guidelines and what constitutes as an “encounter” and what does not (ncaa.org) coaches still manage to keep violating these rules and the AD’s keep letting it happen. I only ask you, how? How can these schools not know what their coaches are doing? Especially the big Division 1 schools with football and basketball coaches making well over $1 million a year, to name a few, according to Forbes.com:
Nick Saban (Alabama-Football) $5.9 million
Urban Meyer (Florida-Football) $4 million
Mack Brown (Texas-Football) $5.1 million
Les Miles (LSU-Football) $3.9 million
John Calipari (Kentucky-Basketball) $4 million
Billy Donovan (Florida-Basketball) $3.3 million
Bill Self (Kansas-Basketball) $3 million
Thad Matta (Ohio State-Basketball) $2.5 million
Rick Pitino (Louisville-Basketball) $2.25 million

Now is my point to illustrate are these coaches overpaid? No, even though they are in rational terms, but relative to their sport. My point is that if you’re the president of your school and you run successful programs, want to win championships, draw students to your school, how do you let violations occur like we’ve been seeing while paying out all this money from students and alumni? Jim Tressel recently, as most know, admitted to knowing star player’s on scholarships were violating NCAA league rules for players but he also covered it up. The story goes that 5 of his starters on the men’s football team exchanged player memorabilia for tattoos at a local tattoo parlour, which is a direct NCAA violation. How can this happen? How can we look at these schools with respect and give them credit when these things happen? Florida and PITT football players are going to jail (according to news reports and an article in a recent Sports Illustrated issue outlining both arrests during time at college and criminal records during the recruiting process), along with UNC players and their agent violations. Violations are happening everywhere and yet coaches, AD’s and president’s keep getting bigger and bigger paycheques and bonuses without stopping it. Something isn’t right in the collegiate sport world and I for one want to see the ship righted. The fans, the students and the alumni that stand by their school through thick and thin at these institutions deserve better from their programs. They deserve the right to proudly associate with their Alma madder without having to hide behind these recent allegations and rule violations.

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