If you haven't heard by now, you don't watch television or have been on Internet sabbatical for the last 48 hours.
The University of Miami (FL), aka The U, broke enough rules in the last decade to get Jim Tressel a nomination for sainthood. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, prostitutes, vehicles, parties... all from a guy who's spending the next 20 years behind bars for orchestrating a ponzi scheme.
The NCAA is expected to come down hard on The U, and many analysts have used the phrase "death penalty."
But the problems coming from this situation, at this specific university, are so overwhelming on so many levels that it could ultimately be the straw that finally breaks the camel's back.
This could be Doomsday for the NCAA.
Obviously Miami's screwed. But this goes well beyond that single campus.
First of all, consider the man that will handle the discipline of The U. Paul Dee has been one of the most outspoken individuals in the college ranks when it
comes to disciplining institutions for infractions that, next to the bombshell at Miami, appear to be bottlerockets.
Dee was the Chairman of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions and hammered school after school while that Committee handed out punishments. When USC was thrown under the bus because of Reggie Bush, Dee said "high profile players demand high profile compliance." Memphis was stripped of their Final Four appearance because the committee, led by Dee, felt the university couldn't hide behind the "we didn't know" defense.
Most of what Dee said made sense. School should know their top players better if they want to stay out of trouble.
Here's the systemic problem, though: Dee was the Athletic Director at Miami when most/all of these incidents took place.
And what's worse? When asked about the allegations, Dee went ostrich and buried his head in the sand. "“We didn’t have any suspicion he was doing anything like this,” Dee told the Palm Beach Post. “He didn’t do anything to cause concern.”
Really? Is that Paulie D answering the media, or Paul Dee?
The man's being painted as an epic hypocrit, and he deserves to be. Critics and cynics alike have never been handed such a perfect canvas and beautiful
subject matter to paint the picture of everything wrong with college sports before Dee in the last two days.
Meanwhile, privately, boosters of The U are all smiling. Why? Because every time SportsCenter shows an interview with a player potentially involved in the scandal, it's a current NFL All-Pro. Devin Hester, Jonathan Vilma, Jon Beason, Andre Johnson... the list of all-stars at the next level serves as the best marketing for any football program... if Miami is allowed to continue playing football.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Just like the Titanic, it's what lies under the surface that will sink this vessel.
If Miami receives the death penalty, the trickle down could be overwhelming. A rumor within the last two weeks was that two prominent schools - Texas A&M
and Florida State - were considering a move to the SEC. While there are some legal issues for either school, the problems at Miami add smoke where there may
have already been fire.
One of the other major scandals in the last 14 months in college sports was at the University of North Carolina - also in the ACC. If North Carolina and Miami are dealy severe penalties by the NCAA, what further reason does Florida State need to bounce for the more competitive, higher profile SEC? And if FSU rolls, consider the pressure on another school (A&M) to follow suit quickly.
Now take the progression one step further. If Texas A&M leaves the Big 12 (which is now the Big 10, and would then be the Shrinking 9), the integrity of that once-great conference is even more in question. Suddenly, if a conference like the Big Ten (which is now the Big Twelve, and could be the Growing Fourteen) makes Texas or Oklahoma a major financial offer, why would they stay with a conference that's clearly on life support?
Do you see where we're going here?
And we haven't discussed the professional implications yet. We'll leave that to Chicago Bears safety Chris Harris, who stated the obvious on Twitter on Thursday morning:
College sports are full of lies, cheats and idiots. As one analyst said in the last couple days, "Nine out of ten teams are cheating, and the other one's in last place."
I played football in college, albeit not at a high level (NAIA baby!). I have friends associated with programs all over the country as well. There are schools that absolutely handle their business right, like Tom Izzo at Michigan State. And the number of student-athletes that are legitimately taking advantage of physical gifts to afford an education is a beautiful thing.
But the depth of these problems has overwhelmed a system that has more issues than Sports Illustrated, and has centered the focus of the sports media world on the hypocrisy of the system.