Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What if Miami dropped its football program?

Yes, almost certainly a ridiculous idea and one that publicly no one connected with the University of Miami is discussing. But the Wall Street Journal examines what might happen if "The U" abandoned its football program in light of the recent Yahoo! Sports report detailing potential improper benefits to more than 70 Hurricanes' athletes.

The Wall Street Journal story notes that there would be significant financial implications if the football program were dropped, but they might not be as bad as one might think.

The university continues to grapple with the allegations made by a one-time prominent booster who is now serving a 20-year prison sentence for his role in a Ponzi scheme. The university's president is Donna Shalala, and she yesterday offered her most detailed statement on the developing scandal.

One person caught up in the maelstrom is new football coach Al Golden. There has been speculation in the city of Miami as to whether he might be able to resign without violating any terms of his contract, should a severe NCAA penalty be handed down. For now, as the Miami Herald notes, he refuses to discuss that.

Let's assume that the university's administrative and athletic leaders refuse to shut down the football program, and that's a rather safe assumption, in my opinion. What are the chances that the NCAA will find that the program, which has been on probation before, ought to receive the "death penalty"?

Not likely to happen is the consensus among the various college football experts who have commented on that subject. But that doesn't mean journalists aren't continuing to examine that subject. On the FloridaToday.com Website today, one such story has been posted.
Even if only a fraction of convicted felon and booster Nevin Shapiro's allegations are true, then a "death penalty" harsh enough to scare every shady program in the country straight is the only answer. Clearly the two-year "death penalty" levied against SMU in the 1980s -- a punishment that crippled the school's football program for 25 years -- did not do the trick.

I bet five years would.

But only if universities heed the warnings and finally start taking responsibility. It's time to put the blame where it belongs, on the people hired to steer and guide student-athletes through the minefield of college life.

I'm sick and tired of hearing how the system is broken or that this proves we need to start paying student athletes.

Wrong.

All this latest scandal proves is that we don't have enough people in power with backbone to do the right thing, to keep the sleazy hangers-on away from the players, to question the inner-city kid about how he can suddenly afford nightclubs, new cars and $20,000 diamond-crusted dog tags.
Correct. And when the pressure to win and the lure of big-time bowl games define college football, this unethical behavior will continue. So, in reality, if the NCAA wants to shut down the dirtbags, it has to look into its mirror. 

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