Is big-time college
football broken? In just the last year and a half 18 football programs have been investigated by the NCAA. Now a longtime
University of Miami booster has alleged that he provided many UM athletes with cash, gifts, meals and other favors.
“If the assertions
are true, the alleged conduct at the University of Miami is an illustration of the need for serious and fundamental change
in many critical aspects of college sports,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said last week.
All this has sparked an intense debate over whether the allegations, if true, are serious enough
to warrant the NCAA's so-called “death penalty”; suspension of Miami's football program.
That penalty has only been levied once, against Southern Methodist University, in 1987. The fact
that it has not been used since might go a long way toward explaining why recruiting violations and other rule infractions
seem occur with such regularity.
It's easy to wonder
if the NCAA's rules are being taken very seriously in the big-money world of college football, where the pressure to win at
any cost is intense.
In that regard, we like what former
Gator football coach Urban Meyer, now an ESPN commentator, said recently when asked about recurring scandals.
“When I hear the system is broken, it's not broken,” Meyer told
McClatchy Newspapers. “Part of the system is broken. Instead of a complete overhaul, they need to make the punishment
so severe that if you break certain rules, you can't coach or play.”
Perhaps suspension of an offending school's football program is too harsh a sanction. But in cases where coaches
or athletes are been found to be culpable or in flagrant violation of the rules, suspension, or an outright ban from the game,
certainly seem be in order.
Sooner or later the NCAA does
need to get tough with those who don't play by the rules, or admit that the system is indeed broken, perhaps beyond redemption.