In determining whether there has been a lack of institutional control when a violation of NCAA
rules has been found it is necessary to ascertain what formal institutional policies and procedures
were in place at the time the violation of NCAA rules occurred and whether those policies and
procedures, if adequate, were being monitored and enforced. It is important that policies and
procedures be established so as to deter violations and not merely to discover their existence
after they have taken place. In a case where proper procedures exist and are appropriately
enforced, especially when they result in the prompt detection, investigation and reporting of the
violations in question, there may be no lack of institutional control although the individual or
individuals directly involved may be held responsible.
I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time the past couple months following the saga of conference realignment. From message boards to Twitter to websites, you can knock off hours at a time following this stuff and end the day with nothing more than a laugh over the spaghetti thrown against the wall by certain “insiders”. College sports (and specifically, collegiate student athletes) are supposed to be the last bastion of pure athletic competition, unsullied by the cruel beast of capitalism and me-ism. At a time when we recoil in disgust at the antics of professional athletes such as Floyd Mayweather, Jr, and his entire entourage of thugs or Plaxico Burress (who was such a gangsta that he shot himself when he dropped his piece thru his warm-ups), some of us take refuge in the calming cradle of our last hope for some sort of regulated control over the wave of money, fame, and sex rained down upon our golden calves in sports.
The idea that college sports is anything but corrupt is only held by the wide doe eyed idiots of our fandom and the sidemouth-talking powers that control college sports. That’s quite an accussastion, I realize. But let’s not for one second try to convince ourselves that college sports is anything but a money maker. It would not exist without the backroom deals and the Vegas gambling and the under-the-brim-of-the-cap cash “donations” made to our student athletes.
So, as I peruse Twitterverse for hours on end, the odd thing that keeps coming up is how everything in college football is about to change. For the past 100 years, college football is the place where we can go and actually have a stake in the outcome of the game. Dallas Cowboys fans are rabid, but mainly when they are winning. Houston Texan fans are committed, but have only been so for a few years since they didn’t even exist the last time the Cowboys won a Super Bowl. Either way, if a fan of another team criticizes the Cowboys, it won’t be taken anywhere as personally as a slam to one’s college team.
Of course, the caveat here is that fandom resides mainly from the folks who actually attended there, or have family that attended there. Even still, the “fans” of a team are missing out completely on the experience of having a personal stake in the fandom. Being a fan of a pro team, except for the employees, is missing the personal connection to the team like you have in college sports. Obviously, that’s where college sports breeds such feelings of “win at all costs”. This is your education and reputation at stake, by gawd. We go to class with those same student athletes that we watch on the field on Saturday. They are just like us.
Whatever the reason for fandom, heart or head, the fact remains that committed college sports fans are rabid beyond logic. The NCAA is there to temper the actions of those who go off the reservation and try to get an advantage however they see possible. This group oversees the competition committees, rules on eligibility of its participants, and governs the actions and activities of its member institutions.
For all the power that it wields, the NCAA has no control over how each sovereign entity (ie – “its members”, “the schools”) chooses to do business outside of the scope it lays down. If Texas Tech wants to only sell tickets to students and play in a 20,000 seat stadium, it’s total up to them as long as they use participants that follow the NCAA guidelines and conduct business as per NCAA rules on competition. Likewise, if Texas Tech decides to form a union of other like-minded schools (such as Texas A&M or Oklahoma) in order to package the rights of its broadcasts, there’s nothing the NCAA can do to stop that, as long as the games follow the competition rules set forth by the NCAA. If school decides to strike out on its own and shun joining a union of other schools and sign its soul away for, oh let’s just say, $300 million or so, the NCAA cannot stop that sovereign entity from doing so, as foolish as it may be or as restrictive as the contract verbiage might be.
In short, the NCAA serves as a powerful overlord who decides who can participate and which teams are allowed to use certain players based on the conduct of those institutions. They cannot perform nor restrict things such as broadcast rights, media coverage, or even the referees of the matches (those are decided by each conference, FYI.) except in the case of penalties (such as A&M’s television restrictions in it’s Should-Have-Been National Championship year of 1994). As long as each institution uses cleared participants and contracts with those participants in a fair, amateur style (ie – “can’t be paid for performing”), any other activity is up to the individual institutions to govern. As it pertains to championships (we are talking football here, since that’s the heart of college sports), the NCAA doesn’t even crown one or take part in the selection of one. You want to win a bar bet? Ask some drunk how many football championships have been named in history by the NCAA. Answer – ZERO. They do not presently or in the past take part in the selection of a national champion in football.
Rant aside, the interesting thing that I’ve noticed this last summer is the lack of control over any aspect of these conversations the NCAA has. In the middle of August when the first major chasms in the Big 12 occurred and Texas A&M was shining its shoes for a trip to Birmingham, the NCAA dropped the hammer on Miami (FL) football after the story of a CONVICTED FELON talking about his influence over football players in Coral Gables was released. And we all stood in shock to find out that of all places, Miami might have people allowed on the sidelines who may have slipped a cool hunny to the players after the games. Miami is expected to be smacked with the worst punishment the NCAA can levy…one for a “lack of institutional control”. SMU was “convicted” of this in the 80’s, and the NCAA shut them down completely with the Death Penalty, the harshest penalty possible. Rumor in the NCAA, though, is that they would never do that ever again because it destroyed a program that’s just now trying to get its feet under itself again. If the Death Penalty really were an option, we would have seen it in the late 90’s/early 00’s with Alabama, or with Miami forthcoming. College football programs all cheat, and if you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t tryin’. You definitely ain’t winnin’.
Ooooo. My innocence is crushed now.
All of this comes on the heels of the folks at the Ohio State University taking quick aim at the nearest sweatervest they could find and ushering it and its contents the hell out of town along with their starting quarterback who was apparently complicit in taking money. The quarterback, by the way, showed up at the school driving a pimped out ride, which is typical for amateur athletes to be able to afford, right? I remember the first luxury SUV I bought in college with tv’s in the back showing porno as I drove down the road. It was a simpler time then, though.
We all know that college athletes get money to play college football, and the teams who get busted are the ones who blatantly flaunt their disregard for the rules. Hell, OU had their started QB and a starting OL busted being paid by a car dealership RED HANDED and all over the internet, and somehow were able to get out with a slap on the wrist. Then they had the audacity to appeal the slap on the wrist and WON THE APPEAL. Does that sound like the dealings of an NCAA who has its hands wrapped around its member institutions?
Since all the conference realignment avalanche started, the thing that’s most apparent is that there’s no control over any of this by any ruling body. People are starting to question these dealings, to the point where the entire NCAA should be reformed. Right now, the NCAA has zero power over the conference realignment conundrum b/c they can’t dictate to sovereign entities how to do certain business. They can only apply rules of eligibility towards the athletes themselves.
The rampant cheating is getting out of hand, though. Check this video out, though…the Fiesta Bowl was busted this year for its employees making political contributions and then being reimbursed, and it looks like the Sugar Bowl may have done the exact same thing. Compliance becomes a factor when the issues regarding payola to political figures for special treatment come up, which means that vicariously the NCAA can in fact execute some sort of authority over the games that the schools play. This all comes under the watchful nose of the NCAA. The NCAA knows this is going on, or they are too stupid to figure it out. Either way, there should be changes to keep this sort of thing out. I’m sure Ken Starr could use a job when all the dust is settled.
The NCAA will be looked upon to step up and do something as the age of endless news cycles explodes and everyone with an iPhone and a WordPress account can wait outside the AD’s office and report back all the nefarious dealings he is having. If you are dealing with amateur athletes who get paid NOTHING (officially) for performing and the use of their likeness, then at some point the NCAA will have to play a bigger part in the day-to-day operations of college football and become the governing body most of us expect them to be in the first place. UNLESS, of course, a group of those sovereign entities decide that the NCAA has overstepped its bounds in being heavy-handed and decides that the NCAA as a governing body is either unfair in its practices or that it can’t control the legal business practices of that individual institution. Let’s say that an institution that has just signed its entire broadcast rights away to a massive corporation who can and will exert whatever power it needs to turn a profit decides (collectively with its business partner) that the rules set forth by the NCAA are not dealt with evenly, fairly, or even with any sort of true authority. Then that entity can make a business case to extricate itself and play the game the way it wants to w/o fear of Death Penalties or broadcast restrictions. To do business the way IT sees fit, and the rules it wants to play
Because, isn’t that what business of college football is all about?