PAT LONGOBARDI — Sports Reporter
As the 2011 college football season draws close, the floodlights from NCAA investigators are illuminating yet another scandal.
Nevin Shapiro, a wealthy booster for the “U,” or the University of Miami, is serving 20 years in federal prison for his part in the infamous Ponzi scheme, in which he allegedly provided football and basketball athletes with gifts such as money, cars and prostitutes for over the past decade. Needless to say, this violated a few NCAA guidelines.
Colleges and their athletes need to be more responsible. Despite a reputation for championship teams and NFL players, Miami has not lived up to its name for many years now. Appearing in one of the seemingly infinite bowl games does not mean anything if the team was not that good and had distractions off of the field.
Miami might even be put on what the NCAA calls the death penalty—the worst punishment the NCAA can hand down. It is impossible to know how long this investigation will last or how relevant Miami will be after the issue has been resolved.
With the disappointments of the past decade, this incident has really compounded Miami’s already treacherous road ahead. They have not been a real championship threat since the Larry Coker era and are moving on to yet another head coach. With on-field altercations and now this latest scandal, the once-dynastic Miami is falling to pieces.
In week two of the 2011 season Miami clashes with Ohio State in one of the early, monster games with BCS implications. Unfortunately, this game will probably be considered the “Scandal Bowl.”
Ohio State was also recently under investigation for a tattoo incident that cost the program a head coach and their Heisman Trophy hopeful quarterback in the process.
Here’s my question: How many times will these scandals need to occur before collegiate sports consider simply playing for the sake of playing, not for rivalries, tournaments and bowl games?
The best, or maybe the worst part of this issue is that these scandals are happening to programs that are held as some of the most elite in the entire country.
The idea that some of these scandals may be a sign that players need to be treated – or paid – better is ridiculous. Many athletes are in college to get an education, while some are auditioning for a job in the world of professional athletics.
I do not agree with the stripping of games and titles as a way to reprimand a school, leaving some years vacant of champions. That does nothing but make more of something that is already recorded and in the past. I think having teams on probation in future seasons is the right move, and the NCAA can go from there.
Maybe someday players will be paid in college, but trying to make this plea in the midst of different scandals is not a great way to argue that point.