Winning at Any Cost? A Look Into College Football ScandalsUp until recently, the problems at Ohio State were what was on everyones mind.Former Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor received thousands of dollars forsigned gear and memorabilia, and several other Ohio State players received dealsfrom local car dealerships and additional benefits like free rounds of golf. Thescandal forced out longtime coach Jim Tressel, and the NCAA is still decidingwhether or not to further punish Ohio State. Additionally, three Ohio State playerswere suspended for the season opener against Akron because they acceptedimpermissible benefits at a charity event earlier this year.Another head coach casualty this offseason due to program wrongdoing was NorthCarolinas Butch Davis. Several North Carolina Tar Heels players received trips toLas Vegas and Miami, black diamond watches and earrings and several otherbenefits worth thousands of dollars. More than 13 players were suspended for lastyears season opener against LSU, and Marvin Austin, Greg Little and RobertQuinn were later declared permanently ineligible by the NCAA. North Carolinaalso was found guilty of academic scandal, as one of their former tutors providedtravel and parking benefits to team members, as well as free tutoring. Some playersalso had completed homework and assignments supplied to them. The university,in an attempt to restore credibility to the institution, fired Davis in October.While many of these scandals involve players receiving benefits while playing fortheir universities, other scandals involve football programs paying agents to enticerecruits to sign to their particular program. This appears to be what happened atOregon. Oregon is currently being investigated by the NCAA for paying $25,000to Will Lyles and his scouting service company. Although schools do payrecruiting services for information throughout the season, $25,000 is an extremelyhigh sum. The only thing Oregon received for their money was a 2010 nation-widerecruiting packet that contained mostly players from Texas who graduated the yearbefore. While ordinarily this would seem foolish, Will Lyles was the mentor offive-star running back Lache Seastrunk. Seastrunk was a highly recruited player,and he committed to the Ducks only a few weeks before Lyles was paid $25,000.Lyles also had contacts with other football programs, including LSU and TexasA&M. Lyles himself admits that "[Oregon] paid for what they saw as my accessand influence with recruits," and that "the service I provided went beyond what ascouting service should." Lyles is just the latest example of an increasing problemin college football: The middleman who cozies up to big-name high schoolprospects and exploits that relationship to gain benefits from universities that are
looking to recruit the player.The University of Southern California is still suffering through the punishment itearned from the Reggie Bush scandal. Bush and his family received benefits worthover $100,000 dollars while he played at USC. In return, USC was forced to vacatetheir 2004 national championship, Bush was forced to vacate his Heisman Trophy,USC was banned from the postseason until the 2012 season and USC will only beable to put 15 students a year on scholarship until 2015.Sometimes, universities can be punished even when their players are receivingbenefits that sound innocent. Recently, Nebraska self-reported violations thatoccurred when they found that $28,000 worth of textbooks had been supplied toNebraska football players over the span of four years. While universities arerequired to pay for class-required textbooks for any athlete with a scholarship, thisbenefit does not extend to non-required or recommended textbooks. While manyfeel that Nebraska should be commended for helping their students go beyond therequired classroom material, the fact of the matter is that several players on theteam received thousands of dollars of benefits.Texas might come into the NCAAs crosshairs in upcoming months. In a recentinterview on "The Herd with Colin Cowherd," Rachel McCoy, wife of formerTexas Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy, seemed to insinuate that boosters oragents were approaching players to give them benefits. She argued that Southernculture teaches kids to be respectful towards adults, listen to adults and agree withadults, and that when adults offer kids something, theyre culturally obligated toaccept. She then went on to say that there were adults putting kids into badpositions in Austin.Auburn came under fire by the NCAA through their involvement with the CamNewton scandal. Auburn signed the quarterback to their school and later admittedthat Cam Newtons father shopped Cam Newton to Mississippi State for $180,000.However, because Auburn did not pay any money to the Newton family, Auburnhas escaped punishment from the NCAA so far. That hasnt stopped Auburn coachGene Chizik from complaining, though. Chizik argues that his recruiting effortshave been hampered because the NCAA has not completely cleared Auburn ofwrongdoing. Auburn currently remains under NCAA investigation.Miami is only the latest football program to be penalized by the NCAA for playersaccepting benefits. Nevin Shapiro, a Miami booster currently serving 20 years ofjail time for his involvement in a Ponzi scheme, has admitted to paying benefits to
at least 72 former and current Miami players. These benefits included cash,prostitutes, jewelry, an engagement ring, an abortion, bounties for injuringopposing players and entertainment trips.