August 20, 2011

Roundtable: What took the NCAA so long?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for his opinion about a topic in the sport.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: NCAA president Mark Emmert said that if recent allegations about Miami's program uncovered by Yahoo! Sports are true, they show the need for "serious and fundamental change" in college sports. Your thoughts?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
So, it took Yahoo! Sports' investigation for the NCAA to realize there is a need for change? That's sad. Haven't there been many other incidents over the past few years to show that there is need for "serious and fundamental change" in college sports? How many programs currently are on probation or under NCAA scrutiny? Quite a few. Most everyone I talk to seemed to be aware of a need for change even before the Miami story broke. Of course, we've heard calls for change before and not much changed. Perhaps if (and when) the NCAA finds allegations against Miami are true, it will be embarrassed enough to make real and significant moves toward change.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
It's not an overstatement to say that college football is in a crisis. Something must be done to control the sport and dissuade schools from breaking rules. The Miami allegations are just the latest and most disturbing revelations in what has been a sordid 12-month period. Schools obviously feel the risk-reward factor is marginal, as the potential payoff of breaking rules apparently is much greater than the potential penalty. That's where Emmert and the NCAA must step in. The NCAA can't hire hundreds of more investigators. And it can't count on schools policing themselves. Rather, the NCAA must wield a heavy hammer of justice when it metes out punishment. That is the best deterrent the NCAA possesses.

David Fox's answer:
The NCAA president is saying what we've known for a long time - the system simply doesn't work. Fundamental change, if Emmert is serious, should address two key issues. First, the self-policing model for NCAA rules is a farce. Former Miami athletic director Paul Dee sat in judgment of USC and others while all of this went on under his nose; that's one of the problems. And at individual schools, even well-intentioned compliance officers could be thwarted. If the NCAA wants to enforce its rules, this model needs to change. Of course, that brings us to the other potential fundamental change - the rules themselves. Even a full-ride scholarship is not fair-market value for players on the most prominent college football teams, not when TV deals are in the billions. It's tough to blame players for wanting a piece of the ever-expanding pie even if a crooked booster is serving it up.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
Emmert has been on the job for a year but, frankly, he has done nothing of note in terms of making changes. You'd think the president of the NCAA would come aboard with a definite agenda - like Myles Brand, the former NCAA head - but Emmert has fallen short. Fundamental changes do need to be made, but getting those changes passed are going to difficult because of the amount of money involved. If anything threatens to turn off the spigot - or even slow the gushing of money - there rests the possibility of a revolt. Still, there needs to be an effort, and it starts with rewriting the rulebook. Get rid of the minutiae in there - like the rules dealing with "no text messages; use faxes instead" - and focus on the big picture. Second, refine the punishment process. Use a two-pronged approach, one that will get the attention of athletic directors and one that will get the attention of coaches. First, hit schools where it matters - in the wallet. Take away TV money - let schools be on TV but don't dole out the TV money - and also employ postseason bans. And to dissuade coaches from living in the gray areas of the rulebook, take away scholarships.

Steve Megargee's answer:
I'd like to think the need for "serious and fundamental change" was apparent long before the Miami allegations were revealed. Just think back to the last year in college sports. The Heisman winner and quarterback of the national championship team had a father who apparently had offered his son's services to Mississippi State for $180,000. The national championship basketball team was on probation. One of the game's premier programs (USC) already is on probation, with another (Ohio State) ready to follow. The Ohio State case already resulted in the earlier-than-expected departures of Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel and potential Heisman contender Terrelle Pryor. Over the past 12 months or so, the 2004 BCS championship, the 2005 Heisman presentation and the 2009 ACC football championship have been vacated. And now we have one division - the ACC Coastal - that has half its membership (Georgia Tech, Miami and North Carolina) in hot water with the NCAA. I'm glad Emmert has acknowledged serious and fundamental change is necessary. I hope he already realized that long before most of us had ever heard of Nevin Shapiro.




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