NCAA too lenient with players, colleges

Once again in college football, the scandal bug is biting, and this time, it’s biting last year’s poster child.

Yahoo Sports recently broke news concerning Reggie Bush, the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner from USC. According to documents they uncovered, Bush and his family received over $100,000 in benefits during his last two years in school.

Now, according to the NCAA’s own rules, such an action should be grounds for two things: the removal of USC’s 2004 National Championship and Bush losing his Heisman trophy.

What’s likely to happen, though, is absolutely nothing.

You see, the NCAA operates under the idea that major schools, such as USC, are capable of doing no wrong. The truth is these schools are responsible for their athlete’s actions, especially if they knew of them and did nothing.

On top of that, stripping Bush of his Heisman is nothing more than a show of power to current future student athletes. He’s already making millions in the NFL and millions more in endorsements, so he’s got little to lose but his pride.

Players taking money from outside sources in college sports is like baseball players shooting steroids into themselves: it’s been a problem for a long, long time and there’s not a whole lot being done about it.

Buckeye fans have experienced this first hand in 2003, when Maurice Clarett came under investigation for possibly receiving preferential treatment in classes. The investigation later uncovered that he had received thousands of dollars in benefits and misled investigators, but the NCAA did nothing to Clarett or Ohio State.

Maybe the Buckeyes were in the clear, but we’ll never really know, since the NCAA did a poor job investigating. Once they found out what they needed about Clarett, they wrapped up the case and let it fade away.

It’s clear the NCAA is either incompetent in investigating or doesn’t want to investigate. While players come and go in four years, the mess they leave behind can stay for much longer.

So here’s what needs to happen to Bush, Clarett, and all other players found to be in NCAA violation:

1) Strip any ineligible player of the awards or records they have accumulated. No player who knowingly violates the rules of the NCAA governing body should be allowed to be rewarded for it.

2) Strip teams with these ineligible players of any championships they’ve won. That includes Ohio State’s 2003 National Championship. They already practice a similar action in college basketball, so why not apply it to college football?

I’m sure every single Ohio State fan reading this column is thinking that isn’t fair. But the Buckeyes may never have won the 2003 championship if it wasn’t for Clarett, especially since he scored the winning touchdown in the Fiesta Bowl. So unfortunately, it would be the correct thing to do.

3) Put schools undergoing NCAA investigations on a probationary period until the investigation is 100 percent complete. Not the strict kind of probation the NCAA normally uses, but the idea is that they will keep an eye on the team

And while I’m talking about investigations, the NCAA needs to do a lot better job than just rubber stamping school inquiries. Do your own work, even if the school conducts an investigation, because, here’s a fact: People hide things sometimes.

4) If a current student-athlete has found to knowingly violate NCAA rules, don’t just make them ineligible for their NCAA division’s season. These players need to be made ineligible from college football for each NCAA division’s seasons, all the way down to Division III.

The most recent example of this happening was at Oklahoma, where star quarterback Rhett Bomar and a fellow teammate broke the rules. They were found to have received payments for work not completed at a car dealership owned by a major Oklahoma donor.

Both Bomar and his teammate were suspended for this year, but Bomar simply transferred to Divison 1-AA Sam Houston State University. While the move is completely legal under NCAA rules, it’s a loophole needing to be shut.

It’s time for the NCAA get their act in gear, before they end up looking as corrupt and idiotic as Major League Baseball’s front office.

Send comments to Brian Szabelski at [email protected].