So by now, unless you live in a sports cardboard box, you've heard that the University of Miami is in some serious hot water after a former prominent booster has come out with allegations that he provided players a number of improper benefits. Some of these benefits are really out there as Nevin Shapiro (the former booster) allegedly claims he treated players to sex parties, nightclub outings, cars and other gifts. All in all, Shapiro told Yahoo! Sports he provided improper benefits to 72 football players and other athletes at Miami from 2002 to 2010.
If found guilty, and the mounds of evidence Shapiro is bring to the table with the allegations is making that 'if' more a 'when', Miami could be facing some of the most serious sanctions doled out to a college since SMU was faced with the 'death penalty' for violations in the '87 and '88 seasons. The 'death penalty' would shut down the entire Miami football program for a year and is basically the atomic bomb of college violations penalties.
As reported yesterday on ESPN's Mike and Mike in the morning, the NCAA has been aware of these infractions for about 5 months now and is on their way to collecting all the facts for a decision.
"We were well aware of it and weren't surprised by the sensational media coverage. We've been on top of it for a while, gathering information and collecting data," NCAA president Mark Emmert said Wednesday in the interview.
With Miami's apparent guilt assured, we have to ask ourselves are we really surprised by all this?
The amount of high profile schools that have violated NCAA policies in recent years are fast reaching epidemic in proportions. I seriously wouldn't be surprised if the NCAA has a help wanted sign out for their infractions investigation department because of the amount of work being done recently. And while creating jobs in this time of economic upheaval is an admirable thing, it more than underscores the real issue here, which is basically that the NCAA may need to reassess their definition of violations and loosen their grip on the stance that players should not be compensated..
Look, with the amount of money being tossed around at the collegent level, these types of things are going to happen. When you involve rich people and students, kids really, who mainly come from middle income households or worse, you can't expect them to say no to people wanting to lavish them in a lifestyle they have always dreamed of.
No, if the NCAA really wants to cut down on this booster involvement, which is what most violations boil down to because they have the money, then they need to think of some way to compensate players in a way that assures they won't be struck blind by the first wad of cash tossed their way. You can't police every player and every booster at all times, there are simply too many of them, but if you can create an environment where the effects of the temptation that money creates isn't as prevalent, then you can take a huge step in cleaning up both the image of college sports and college sports itself.
It's time for a change and if that change is to come about, it has to be from the NCAA side because as things are going, there isn't going to be a big time school left to pull the fans in.
And without fans, you don't have sports.
Photo credit – AP