NCAA’s long nap led to Fiesta Bowl, Ohio State scandals

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Jim Tressel: He covered up NCAA infractions.

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John Junker: Illegal political contributions, etc.

The story goes that the seeds of the NCAA began in 1905 when a Harvard football player named Ted Roosevelt broke his nose and told his father, who happened to be the U.S. president. What followed was the formation of an association to “protect young people from the dangerous and exploitive athletics practices of the time.”

At the time, “dangerous and exploitive” practices referred to annoyances like gang tackling. Nobody had yet considered the concept of coaches covering up rules violations (and their own backsides); bowl officials violating election laws and skimming from the till; university presidents approving expanded football seasons and selling their souls to television executives while paying lip service to academics; recruits being romanced by bags of money or a line of coeds (or if they’re really good, both).

Danger and exploitation now define the landscape.

The NCAA has been in denial about the problems in college sports for too long. Its lethal combination of ignorance, avoidance and greed has led to perhaps the ugliest time ever for college athletics.

All of the volcanoes on the island are erupting at once.

♦ John Junker is the new face of BCS bowl corruption. He was fired as Fiesta Bowl CEO for allegations of violating campaign finance laws (pressuring employees to make political contributions, then reimbursing them out of the bowl’s bottomless checking account). He submitted reimbursable expenses for everything from an associate’s wedding ($13,086) to a birthday party for himself at Pebble Beach ($33,188). And you thought writing in an extra $7 on the blank “Thank you” receipt was bad.

Junker also financed an annual boondoggle called the “Fiesta Frolic,” a golf retreat for coaches, athletic directors and conference officials at a cost of $1.325 million from 2005 to 2008. Question: While BCS bowl officials are mimicking Bacchus, how is it schools actually lose money on bowl trips?

Stanley McClover is one of four former Auburn players who claimed he was paid to play for the Tigers.

Stanley McClover is one of four former Auburn players who claims he was paid during recruiting and to play for the Tigers.

♦ Ohio State coach Jim Tressel is the new face of the lying, weasel coach. He covered up evidence of his players selling memorabilia before last season, long before the NCAA found out. That’s far worse than the crime. Tressel is an authority figure making $3.5 million per year. The players (while wrong) are young and looking for spending money. OSU president Gordon Gee, the same I’m-more-principled-than-you guy who dismantled the Vanderbilt athletic department, slapped Tressel on the wrist with only a two-game suspension, while joking, “I hope he doesn’t dismiss me.” Tressel now is scrambling to douse public criticism, increasing his suspension to five games. That won’t do it.

♦ Auburn, the defending national champion, is not the new face of anything — just a familiar one. Four former players told HBO’s Real Sports they received cash and sexual inducements when recruited and/or played for the Tigers. One player said he also received payments from Ohio State, LSU and Michigan State during recruiting. Auburn coach Gene Chizik, who is coming off a year of battling allegations related to the recruiting of Cam Newton, called these claims “pathetic and pure garbage.” Chizik has become an expert at denial soundbites.

A BCS bowl.

A high-profile, championship coach.

The reigning national champions.

Can it get worse?

The NCAA never has shown a great concern for its problems. It only shows a concern for looking bad. If it really cared, it would have taken all of those millions of dollars generated by bowls and championships and television contracts and invested more money, resources and time into enforcement of rules and possible ways to fix the problems.

The idea of pay-for-play has been broached in college athletics. My personal view: That likely would only lessen the rule-breaking, not eliminate it. But given the dollars now being generated, it’s something that needs to be looked at.

The biggest problem is that the NCAA is a reactive, not proactive, body. Forever, it has waited for media outlets to investigate and breaks stories on infractions. Dallas newspapers exposed the slimy underground at Texas schools that led to several going on probation and the eventual dissolution of the Southwest Conference. Junker’s dealings originally were reported by the Arizona Republic in 2009. Past issues involving SEC schools mostly were exposed by newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Now major internet sites like ESPN and Yahoo! and aggressive bloggers like SportsbyBrooks are mining stories.

Only after the dam breaks does the NCAA move in.

College athletics have become like professional boxing, run by independent contractors who care only about their wallets. There is no real organization with real structure or real enforcement. Instead of Don King or Bob Arum, we have hypocritical college presidents and self-serving conference heads running things.

The concept of purity in college athletics is long gone. But the NCAA needs to recognize its mission isn’t about limited to broken noses anymore.

This would be a good time wake up from its nap and act like it cares.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

317 comments Add your comment

Father Flannigan

March 31st, 2011
2:43 pm

Heath

March 31st, 2011
2:43 pm

Only after the Dam breaks, indeed.

BYRDDAWG

March 31st, 2011
2:43 pm

82Dawg

March 31st, 2011
2:43 pm

Where there is smoke there is fire…only time will tell on Auburn.

Dana Blankenhorn

March 31st, 2011
2:43 pm

I’m kind of glad I went to Rice, which has long refused to play the corruption game. On the other hand I’m sort of sorry I didn’t go to Emory, because they don’t play at all and save themselves $10 million/year in the process.

Dawglasville

March 31st, 2011
2:44 pm

Where do you start?

Black Coffee & Bourbon

March 31st, 2011
2:45 pm

Doubt they will wake up though if their history is any indication of future performance.

1eyedJack

March 31st, 2011
2:45 pm

I wish mainstream media was as vigilant about Obama’s coruption amd malfeasance as they are about college football.

Why Not?

March 31st, 2011
2:46 pm

At least UGA and Tech were not mentioned. Time for Change Folks.

1eyedJack

March 31st, 2011
2:48 pm

Wouldn’t it be great if the main stream media cared as much about this President’s corruption and malfeasance as it does about college football shenanegans.

"Good People"

March 31st, 2011
2:48 pm

Damon Evans fits right in there with his hot times in hot lantainvolving Red Pantygate. The Fulmer cup champs along with A J ’s jerseygate means UGA is just as guilty.

jumpin joe caldwell

March 31st, 2011
2:49 pm

College sports are a joke.

Dave in Buford

March 31st, 2011
2:49 pm

Emory’s football team is undefeated, too…………

WesDawg

March 31st, 2011
2:52 pm

Just don’t sell a jersey or you’ll get it

It Ain't Rocket Science

March 31st, 2011
2:55 pm

The NCAA has way too much to investigate at this particular time. They are not going to be able to adequately investigate a bunch of stuff in a timely manner which will only have the fans of other schools blogging thier hate messages even more. I think what a lot of folks fail to realize, is that one team cheating in a conference makes the whole conference look bad.
Pay fot play is not the answer. The players are already receiving that in the form of a free education. The average working family has to go deep into debt to pay for their kids to attend a college. I am not sure what the answer is, but I think it might help a little if we held the atheletes to a little higher academic standards, the same as we hold the non-athelete to high standards. All of these exceptions seem to me to just lead, to an easier road for the athelete to be abused and also for them to expect to receive some under the table consideration that is not legal. Raise the standards for atheletes and that would seem to help some what.
Colleges will also have to more closely monitor their booster and alumni clubs support, as I am sure a lot of them know what is taking place. How can you not question a athelete that goes from, not having a ride at school, to suddenly having that ride, new clothes and some other perks that you know his family did not provide him or her. Coaches are just as much to blame, but they rely on the old excuse, that it was never brought to their attention that this was taking place.
Something has got to be done, but I really don’t know what. I guess the NCAA brain trust will have to figure it out.

Heath

March 31st, 2011
2:55 pm

I’ll bet officials at all of the other bowls are sweating. Junker had to ruin the fun for all of them.

Dawglasville

March 31st, 2011
2:55 pm

78% leave the NFL broke? There are bigger issues at play here if we are truly worried these kids.

Old Dawg

March 31st, 2011
2:55 pm

1eyedJack: I’ll cover the current administration and raise you on W’s!

Just like college athletics, the political games are equally tainted in greed, dishonesty and more.

GD

March 31st, 2011
2:56 pm

New football team slogan for Auburn – “We pay hard”.

Jeff Schultz

March 31st, 2011
2:58 pm

Dana Blankenhorn — Whenever I hear, “Rice,” I think of the late days of the Southwest Conference. If memory serves, there were nine schools in the conference, and eight of them were on probation at once — all except Rice. So you are to be congratulated.

rich rod

March 31st, 2011
2:59 pm

Ed O’bannon is a whiner and didnt cut it. Now He is part of this entitlement mentality when he made the wrong choices or when things didnt go his way. NCAA just needs to clean up its act in enforcement of rules in a consistent manner along with hiring more people. Amateur athletes not need to be paid. This first segment of the HBO report was just a couple liberal journalist who has sour grapes about capitalism and making a profit. Get over it ! Its America and making money is just fine.

Jeff Schultz

March 31st, 2011
3:00 pm

Dawglasville — You start with NCAA and university presidents and say, “We change now.” Whole structure, set up needs to change, in my view. More of the money needs to go into that, not building new weight rooms.

dawg 777

March 31st, 2011
3:01 pm

THANKS HBO !!! PROBATION IS COMING AUBURN.

dawg gone

March 31st, 2011
3:02 pm

Well you will never be able to stop “boosters” from giving the 100 dollar handshakes..all you can do is minimize the impact and influence they have…and stop coaches/AD’s etc from systemically cheating…this has gone on in all major schools since at least the late 60’s I know I have friends that were there and saw some of it first hand. The NCAA is a joke and they have gotten to the point they set aside their own “rules” when they deem it appropriate. Watch them come down on Auburn and OSU like the wrath of God himself not because they deserve it or not…but to shore up their “public image” its enough to make a grown man puke…

1970 Dawg

March 31st, 2011
3:03 pm

“Good people” –How do a few traffic violations equal the events described above? Get over your hate long enough to discuss a serious problem.

Delbert D.

March 31st, 2011
3:03 pm

“NCAA” “brain” and “trust” in the same phrase????

1eyedJack

March 31st, 2011
3:05 pm

Old Dawg, yeah but they knew what W had for breakfast. They were all over him. They totally ignore this guy unless it’s to pat him on the back for some stupid thing.

Belcher

March 31st, 2011
3:05 pm

It’s ALL about $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$…including UGA!!!!!!

Trojan

March 31st, 2011
3:06 pm

Auburn is making the NCAA look foolish. Obvious pay for play, having 70+ athletes taking independant studies.

The NCAA is losing all credibility.

UGA Insider

March 31st, 2011
3:07 pm

This is the “Summer of Scandal” in the SEC. Trust me… much, much more is coming once we start to unravel this onion. Just this morning allegations came out on LSU that basically said they paid an informant $80k for him to go there instead of Texas A&M. I hate this but this is getting pathetic and I’m afraid everyone within the conference will be tarnished. I have heard privately that there are at least 7 active NCAA investigations ongoing within the AU program. Now that is pitiful if true.

1970 Dawg

March 31st, 2011
3:07 pm

Why did Chizik comment on the Auburn situation? This took place during Tubberville’s years. Was he just covering himself about current practices?

UGA Insider

March 31st, 2011
3:08 pm

Patrick Peterson I’m referring to.

GT Trumpet

March 31st, 2011
3:08 pm

The NCAA needs to get it’s act together. This kind of backdoor dealing will never stop, but policies can be put into place that make those deals too dangerous or silly. Jeff, either you, Mark, or another article I read recently made a suggestion about a fund for these players if they are good enough when they get out. I like the idea of letting the kids make endorsements so they can get that spending cash. I’m also an idiot, so who really knows.

WIN WITH RICHT

March 31st, 2011
3:08 pm

All of these latest controversies make UGA’s minor violation with Crowell lining up in a jersey seem like a fart in a hurricane. It is time for the NCAA to go after the felons and big time cheaters.

Steve

March 31st, 2011
3:08 pm

Jeff, in your opinion, do you think Auburn will end up in big trouble and will have to vacate wins and possibly the National Championship?

freehome dawg

March 31st, 2011
3:09 pm

Cher sings her hit, the new barner pep song: Dead Trees, Thugs and Thieves

GT Trumpet

March 31st, 2011
3:11 pm

@It Ain’t Rocket Science

I am a rocket scientist. Thanks for the compliment!

Buckeye

March 31st, 2011
3:11 pm

Thanks, Schultz. As they say, bad pub is better than no pub.

Jeremy

March 31st, 2011
3:12 pm

I really have no idea why Michael Adams granted the interview for Real Sports. He may have talked for 45 minutes and made a lot of great points for all we know, but the only thing HBO was ever going to show was the 10 seconds he looked uncomfortable trying to answer why coaches make so much more than Chemistry Professors.

boots

March 31st, 2011
3:12 pm

If I were an Auburn fan, which I am not, I would be worried. Seriously, there is a LOT of smoke there, and they don’t exactly have a clean reputation. With that said, I hope they are clean because it would be bad for college football and the SEC if they are caught. In the meantime, Chizik should keep his mouth shut.

Cheatin Gene

March 31st, 2011
3:13 pm

180,000 reasons change is needed!

Bling and blang

March 31st, 2011
3:13 pm

Ever wonder how some of the college athletes afford body art and the diamond ear studsthey sport? They aint cheap and I bet the ear bling aint zirconia either.

Grover Gaddis

March 31st, 2011
3:14 pm

If Stanley McClover is getting all that payola, why doesn’t he do something about that hair? Bottom line Gents- Never trust a guy with a name like “Junker”.

freehome dawg

March 31st, 2011
3:15 pm

@1970 Dawg

March 31st, 2011
3:07 pm
Why did Chizik comment on the Auburn situation?

You make an excellent point. Who dealt it smelt it / Guilty dog barks the loudest.

PB

March 31st, 2011
3:17 pm

Jeff,
You are right the concept of purity in college athletics is gone. Question is how to manage the NCAA. Appears if you are a winner and bring a lot of money to your school, like Jim Tressel, no really serious penalties will be applied to you. (You won’t get fired.) Think the whole thing is corrupt and there seems to be no way to really control it. A sad state of affairs.

VOLinATL

March 31st, 2011
3:18 pm

Simple…eliminate all athletic scholarships and academic “hardship” entries. The NFL and NBA can start their own minor leagues, like MLB, and college sports will revert to being populated by true student athletes.

85' Bears

March 31st, 2011
3:23 pm

I can understand using a kid’s tution as a payment during their years at a school. However, Ed Obannon is correct, after those 4 or 5 years a school and the NCAA should not make money off a former player’s image. “Forever and throughout the universe?” Such a contract would not be legal in most instances.

shankit

March 31st, 2011
3:26 pm

Nothing corrupt about sports.
Have two Masters badges, will sell for $8500 each.

Buckeye

March 31st, 2011
3:26 pm

Give the damn women’s softball team a stipend too and be done with it.

Unless and until all college athletes are paid a “pocket money” stipend, this crap will continue. Problem is, it’s not just beer and pizza money anymore, it’s the bling, IPhones, tattoos (yes, it’s a fact Ohio State is NOT the only program who’s players, I mean “playas”, have inked), earrings (zirconium or otherwise), rims, etc. They all have “reps” to uphold, duh.

It’s a youth-rap-text world out there. The NCAA remains in Ozzie and Harriottville.

Sad to say, but it is the Animal House defense…….it’s an indictmemt on the United States of America and the culture we’ve become.

Real Sports

March 31st, 2011
3:29 pm

The Real Sports piece from last night was very telling. Prothro was a Heisman candidate at Alabama around 2007 and didn’t get paid a dime. On the flip side, it seems like everyone on the Auburn team was getting paid during the same year (I’m sure it’s still ongoing). Just goes to show that Auburn will do anything in an attempt to catch Alabama.

I agree with ‘85 Bears. That clause should disappear once an “amateur” athlete leaves college, whether he goes pro or not.