Cheat. Go right ahead.
With the NCAA’s most recent slap on the wrist punishment towards UConn Men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun, it has continued its path of lowered ethical standards. Calhoun, a known cheat, and his basketball program were punished with the loss of one scholarship per year for three seasons and Calhoun was suspended from coaching three WHOLE games next season.
Since this news came to light this week, there have been more allegations against Coach Bruce Pearl from Tennessee, who has ALREADY been caught cheating this year. John Calipari at Kentucky has already managed the dubious achievement of getting two different teams to the Final Four and having both final fours whiped away from the record books after evidence of cheating was exposed (though Coach Cal himself has managed to remain on the sideline partially due to the fact that he knows when to jump off the ship before it hits the iceberg).
And it isn’t just the coaches who are laughing in the face of NCAA “discipline”. The NCAA reached a new low this year in the Cam Newton saga, when they basically decided to ignore existing rules and create a nice loophole for Cam and Cecil (or “Creflo” as radio show host Steve Czaban has dubbed him after the infamous Creflo Dollar). Sure, the NCAA may finally crack down on Auburn in a couple of years. The title may eventually have to be vacated. But in a couple of years, no one is going to really care. Cam Newton, with the millions he’s going to be making in the NFL, surely won’t care. Nor will the public. The NCAA had the chance to send a message to Newton and the programs that engage in unethical recruiting practices.
Instead, they delivered a different message. “Go ahead and cheat. We’re not going to do anything about it. That is, if you make us money of course.” If you’re a low level division I program in a non-revenue sport, even the slightest slip up, and you can expect a full crackdown on your program. The NCAA sure is known for their consistency in dealing with ethical issues.
So, it begs the question; If you are an NCAA coach or athlete in a revenue earning sport like football or basketball, why wouldn’t you cheat? This seems to be the path we are headed on. If the NCAA isn’t going to do anything besides giving out some token “punishment”, then why not get all your top level boosters to start opening their wallets for top level recruits? Some coaches are way ahead in this aspect it seems. Calipari remains unscathed as he continues to roam the sidelines, while bringing in, yet again, another top rated class. Coaches like Calhoun and Pearl are cheating right in front of our very eyes. And they do this because they know the deal.
Pretty soon, the last coaches left with any integrity are going to be forced to do their best Nick Nolte impression from Blue Chips. And that will be a sad day.