College athletics has been hit by a Hurricane.
Not only are we again seeing devastation but trash. Lots of it.
Decades after the death penalty to SMU’s football program and with an NCAA rules manual that would give an average person both a hernia and a headache, stuff is still going on.
All administrators want a fantasy world, where student-athletes are student-athletes and boosters are right-minded, morale folks who have nothing but the idealism of sports at heart.
While many try to use odor-relieving spray along the landscape, there is stench.
Within the last 18 months, football teams at Southern California, Ohio State, Auburn, Oregon, Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and LSU all have been investigated or sanctioned by the NCAA.
Because of serious threats to college athletics, just last week, NCAA president Mark Emmert led a group of 50 university presidents in drafting an outline for change in college sports, including higher academic standards, a streamlined rule book and new parameters for athletic scholarships. Emmert said he wants to drive major changes to NCAA Division I athletics.
Donna Shalala, University of Miami president, was among that group.
And in the last few days, the "U," as a result of a long investigation by Yahoo Sports, has been hit by some of the most disgusting and far-reaching charges ever.
The source of the charges is Nevin Shapiro, convicted in the Ponzi scandal who poured major funds into the university and its athletic programs and regularly led the Hurricanes on the field from the tunnel.
Payments to players are part of the allegations, which the NCAA also claims it has been investigating for five months. That’s nothing new; been going on for decades.
The scope and depth of these allegations are disturbing. Basically, the players reportedly got whatever they wanted. That included prostitutes, parties, access to yachts and payment for abortions.
Shapiro, from prison, claims he has 1,000 pictures and 10 years of bank statements to support his admission and allegations.
So, we have dirty money combined with what many would consider immorality. That’s highly combustible and the wildfire seems to be spreading across the Miami landscape by the day.
Young players, many of whom have never had much, are vulnerable and easily tempted by everything they dreamed.
The problem is with out-of-control boosters who will do anything to attract overly hyped and much-publicized young athletes and then anything to help their favorite team win.
While college officials are proudly throwing out the term "student-athlete," several boosters (hopefully a minority) are discarding he "student" and the ethics and are doing things to win at any cost — and often without shame.
What’s the message for young people?
Just as in any other business, there will always been impurities in college athletics. It’s an imperfect world.
It’s about time the goal and the emphasis concerns the good and not the bad and the ugly.
And that could mean significant changes in the culture that spans players, coaches, administrators, fans. When folks are rating the top middle school players in the country and overhyping kids before puberty, the media also shares a role in this.
If the love of money is the root of all evil, that superficial love, combined with an unreined passion, is leading to the growth of weeds in our fantasy gardens.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or email@example.com)