Friday, November 12, 2010


The entire college football world has been consumed for the past week with the Cam Newton investigation. Auburn fans are naturally defending their Heisman candidate and looking forward to him leading them to an undefeated National Championship season. Their claim that the allegations are unfounded due to the lack of irrefutable evidence will eventually be either proven right or wrong.

The problem is greater than allegations that the father of a talented athlete was in need of some quick cash and seized the opportunity to cash in. The integrity of the game itself is what is on the line here.

Did a university or a representative of the school pay to have a player sign a national letter of intent and enroll as a student athlete?

That question strikes at the heart of the game and if proven true, the consequences for the university should be more severe than any imposed on a Southeastern Conference school since the inception of the conference.

Buying players is not a new problem, it has happened before and the challenge presented to the NCAA and the SEC is to prevent it from happening again. The most logical penalty is to expel the guilty school from the conference for a period of ten years, no bowls, no TV and no cut of the conference cash pie. The punishment must have a severe financial impact to be effective. A player caught cheating is not allowed to play, why not punish the institution equally?

The pressure to win on coaches, athletic directors and everyone associated with a university athletic association has been greatly magnified by multi-billion dollar TV deals that allow seven figure multi-year contracts for those in the decision making positions. The incentive to win is expressed in millions of dollars and the opportunity to sign a game changing player in exchange for a couple hundred thousand dollars is seen as the cost of doing business.

Give the university an incentive to play by the rules that is greater than the one to break them.

The real winners here are the players that receive the money, they move on to the NFL for even more money, the coaches change schools and never look back. The governing bodies are usually so slow to uncover the facts and rule that those involved are long gone. The school pays a small price for their actions, fans forget quickly and the ultimate loser is the game itself.

Integrity is rarer than an offensive lineman winning the Heisman.

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