The NCAA, creepy recruiting, and how we know that they just don't care

I'm going to tell you something about the NCAA; and if you haven't figured it out at this point in your "fan-hood" then you might not agree with me. Be that as it may, here it is. The NCAA cares about one thing and one thing only. It's the same thing that every other business, or business posing as a "non-profit," in the world cares about if they're going to be successful. Money, profit margins, and everything else is window dressing. The boys in Indy have never, in my lifetime anyway, had so much egg on their faces; and they just don't seem to care.

We have Bowl trustees spending millions of dollars in "charitable funds" on birthday golf trips to Pebble Beach, strip club excursions, felony political misconduct, and who knows what else. We have players parents openly, and admittedly, shopping their children around to the highest bidders with seemingly no penalties,...yet? We have blatant NCAA gifts infractions, on multiple players, for one of the most high profile football programs in the nation being swept under the rug. Right in front of our very eyes and all in the interest of TV ratings, and a few more zeros onto the one thing that means anything to the NCAA. Dollar-Dollar-Bills y'all.


It's all right there at our fingertips with the power of the internet/ 24 hour news media. Because of that power and coverage, the rocks and crevasses that people used to hide behind and take cover in to brake NCAA rules have begun to vanish over the years. In the ESPN 30 for 30 special on Marcus Dupree, one of the most sought after High School Football players ever, there was a scene where one of the former coaches, from one of the big time schools recruiting him, was being interviewed. They asked him about the guy's Uncle/ representative shopping his services and the coach just smirked and said, "there's always an uncle isn't there." Uncle, cousin, mentor, pastor, father, what ever you wanna to call them, the fact of the matter is that as long as they've had a reason to be there, people have been around young athletes trying to get theirs'.

The stakes involved with major college athletics have increased exponentially with every new TV contract, bowl pay out negotiation, and conference realignment over the last two decades; football is King. Want proof? The NCAA didn't let a silly little thing like rules stop the 2010 Heisman Trophy Winner, who (at that point) had played in four of the five highest rated games during the regular season from playing in two consecutive games that were almost sure to be TV ratings gold mines. They didn't let a silly little thing like the rules prevent 4 crucial players, and the starting QB of the Ohio State Buckeyes, from playing in one of their of their Marquee nationally televised events either. As a matter of fact the NCAA completely ignored their own rules and precedents to ensure those veins would not go un-mined.

The Dynamic Duo 2savbv_cam_20and_20pryor_jpg_medium

The truth is that the NCAA could have and should have suspended the Tattoo Five and Cam Newton from postseason play but they didn't. Why? Because in both of those instances doing the right thing would have cost them, and the real man behind the curtain (the BSC), a lot of dollars. Lord knows you can't have a little thing like the rules affect the bottom line so, the NCAA just keeps making up the rules as they go along. Even when they do make an attempt to discipline an individual or institution the action is weaker than a cocktail at Fourth Street Live.

The NCAA puts people on probation (whiff, not even a slap), takes scholarships (love tap), and vacates wins (slap). If I park illegally and get a note from a meter maid saying please don't do that again, guess what? I'm not going to think too much of it; but, If I get a $25 fine I'm gonna think twice before deciding my car will be Ok where it is for 5 minutes. If the NCAA started taking away TV appearances, fining athletic departments, and banning teams from post season play,.. I guarantee you heads would start turning. Of course that poses the question: why would the NCAA do something that might have such a dramatic affect on their profit margins? The simple answer is that they wouldn't, and their recent in-actions suggest that they have no interest in doling out anything in the way of real discipline.

When we hear stories like the ones now circulating around UCF, and the mercenaries they've surrounded their athletic department with, most of us chalk it up to recruiting being a dirty (and creepy) business. Any college sports fan with a set of eyes, internet access, and half a brain can tell you that recruiting in college athletics is about as low-down, shady, and dirty a business as any in America today. Make no mistake about it, recruiting is a major part of the business that is college athletics. You don't need to go scratching around at the surface very hard to come up with all the dollars that are involved every year, thanks Mike. Schools have recruiting budgets and according to an article published in 2008, those budgets had increased by 86% over the last 10 years.

I once had a political science professor at the University of Louisville tell me that if you're going to do any legitimate research on why decisions, or non-decisions are made, you have to start with the money trail and follow it along with all it's tributaries. College Athletics are no different. The stakes involved with "Big Time" college athletics are simply too high, for all parties involved, for the operations surrounding it, on all levels, to not be cut throat; and that's putting it lightly. When the organization charged with regulating that business, and it is a business, has a vested interest in the success of that business, how can it be trusted to make the right decisions and enforce the rules? The simple answer is that it can't.

The obvious answer is, that the NCAA has proven time and time again that it won't. As long as there are schools like Ohio State, Auburn, and Kentucky leading the way into lucrative television contracts for their conferences, and everyone involved with them, those schools will continue to receive treatment that can only be categorized as preferential. How else can you explain a blind eye begin turned towards blatant violations, pay for play schemes, and "not credible grade changes" to high school transcripts? The NCAA has created a Wild West like atmosphere of "every man for himself" with their disregard for the very things that they're supposed to be monitoring.

With the amount of money involved in College Athletics right now, allowing the NCAA to police its members, and essentially itself, is kind of like allowing Fannie Maye and Freddie Mac to regulate the housing market. In other words, not smart. Unfortunately the only entity out there with the power to do anything about this situation is the one with perhaps the only track record for ineptitude greater than the NCAA's.

There are however a few things we can all be sure of. As long as there are millions of homes, and advertising opportunities to be taken advantage of, the television revenues up for grabs aren't going anywhere-anytime soon. Because of that, you can rest assured that the pressure on Coaches and Athletic Directors to help their schools get a piece of that proverbial pie isn't going anywhere either. So, creepy recruiting and operational misconduct will continue to be the norm; and, as long as the Politburo in Indianapolis thinks that making money is a good thing, they will continue to do the bare minimum in the enforcement and discipline departments to ensure that their "Non-profit" makes as much PROFIT as possible.