Since the start of 2010, there has been one constant theme in college sports and it continues into the first part of 2011. NCAA crackdowns and investigations have almost become a daily occurrence and breaking news on every news wire across the country. This seems like a cyclical thing that happens every 5-10 years, the NCAA decides to get tough and clean up everything that may have been overlooked for the last few years to the previous decade.
The one thing that really got the ball rolling here was the final decision on the USC and Reggie Bush investigation that took years to complete. Then before the start of this past college football season, we had what was coined as “agent gate” where the NCAA was investigating North Carolina’s football team and it ended with some suspensions and some players being kicked off the team. But that seemed to be the sign of the times where every other story written was some school was self-reporting this, or this team had to meet with the NCAA about that. It just became a never ending line of violations and compliance issues that dominated the papers everyday but on Saturday.
The one story that really got everyone going was the breaking news halfway through the season about Cam Newton supposedly being shopped to Mississippi State for $180,000. This was a soap opera story at its finest. Every opponent took their shots and continues to do so, but the real questionable thing that happened here is the fact that Cam got suspended prior to the SEC championship game, then was re-instated 24 hours later. Then all he did was go on to win the Heisman and a National Championship. Since the end of the season, this story has since gone away and will probably be resolved with nothing being done. Because for once there is no real trail of wrong doing, it has all been here say.
College sports fans would have thought that moving on to basketball season would help break away from the problems, but as it has been, the NCAA was investigating Tennessee for recruiting violations with their head basketball coach. But the SEC decided to go ahead and suspend him at the start of conference play, but then the NCAA delivered their letter. Now everyone around the program is wondering what the program will face and if firing Bruce Pearl would help lessen that blow. But this matter won’t be resolved until June.
The one that surprised everyone was the fact that Jim Calhoun of UCONN got busted with a recruiting violation and is going to have to sit out 3 games next season in the Big East conference play. So, it is looking like anyone and everyone is in danger and everything is being magnified 100 times. The question that lingers for everyone is this going to be a long term deal, or will the NCAA do what they did in the past and start lightening up on everyone after they prove a point.
Cheating happens on every level of college athletics, and there is no real way to stop it, unless the NCAA will hit every team they catch with heavy sanctions, regardless of how big or how profitable the program makes the sport. Until the NCAA can find a way to scare everyone straight, it is just going to be an endless game of who gets caught and who gets away with it. The bottom line is, if you are stupid and don’t cover your tracks correctly, then you will face the wrath of the NCAA. But most fans are getting tired of hearing about another school facing sanctions and having problems, just because something slipped out that wasn’t supposed to. I am all for a clean and fair sport, but that will never happen as long as there are schools that make huge amounts of money and there are other schools who can’t make a dime.