In College Football, Money Talks, Virtues Walk


July 23, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; NCAA president Mark Emmert speaks during a press conference at the NCAA Headquarters with NCAA Executive Committee chair Ed Ray standing behind him to announce corrective and punitive measures against Penn State University for the child abuse committed by former Penn State Nittany Lions assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

It didn’t even take five minutes until after the NCAA handed down the unprecedented sanctions on the Penn State football program before we heard outcries from various board members, about how ethics and values had gone by the wayside in college football, and that this decision would be the first step in restoring those virtues.

“We’ve had enough. This has to stop,” Edward Ray, the president of Oregon State and the NCAA executive chairman told the New York Times writer, Pete Thamel, on Tuesday.

Ray’s statement is about as laughable as the notion that Joe Paterno had no clue that Jerry Sandusky was sexually abusing those boys during the period the incidents took place.

There is absolutely no denying that acts Sandusky committed on those children were heinous and incomprehensible. The man should not be allowed to step foot outside of a prison cell as long as he lives. As hard as it is to believe, the NCAA actually did the right thing for once, delivering a death blow to the Penn State football program for at least the next decade or so. However, the idea that this verdict will spur any type of long-term reform, specifically in college football, is absurd. Guaranteed, it will be a cold day in hell before that happens.

Sure, in the short term, these hammer wielding men will pull every rhetorical phrase out of their back pockets, to try and convince us the effects of this decision will be felt at institutions across the country for years to come. They will sit on their pedestals and ride the wave of public opinion, gladly accepting pats on the back for a job well done.

Sadly, outside of Happy Valley for the most part, this ground swell of support and promises of change will last for only a few more short weeks—until colleges begin to see the revenue generated by their big time football programs pouring in. Feelings of anger and empathy will fade, taking a back seat to greed and selfishness.

For years, the NCAA, and the presidents of many schools, has routinely turned a blind eye to indiscretions that take place on college campuses involving athletes. Unless forced to, they wouldn’t dare cut off a big source of their revenue, as these kids have always been cash cows for them.

Look back over the years at a majority of the programs that have been leveled with sanctions: USC, Penn State, Ohio State, and North Carolina, just to name a few. In most all of those cases, the NCAA did nothing until those in the media started digging around and uncovering information. Once the details were made public, people started asking questions and turned up the heat on the powers that be, urging that some sort of action be taken to address the issues. Only when backed into the corner, did they finally put their foot down and take action. In doing so, more often than not, the committee outright abused their power, handing down punishments that didn’t fit the crimes.

The case involving USC a few years back is a prime example of that. Reggie Bush took money and gifts from individuals who weren’t even associated with the school. Yet, it was assumed that Pete Carroll, and other coaches, knew about what was going on. Despite having very little evidence to support these claims, the NCAA felt it necessary to make an example of the university by placing ridiculous sanctions on the football program.

Ray, and his fellow board members, can talk all they want about how the Penn State case will once again help put values and ethics ahead of the powers that the football program possesses at major universities, but the reality is, virtues went out the window a long time ago. In today’s game, it’s all about TV contracts, advertising, school sanctioned apparel, ticket sales, and all the recognition it brings.

In other words, the ugly truth is this: when schools are shown the prospects of what the great American greenback brings; everything else is ushered out the door.