I was listening to ESPN radio the other morning.  I enjoy listening to Mike & Mike in the mornings because they are engaging and entertaining.  Occasionally, they have topics that tend to dominate the day, and on with the allegations of rules violations at the University of Miami, Wednesday was one of those days.  There were a couple of key points that really stuck out to me as I was listening.

First, the issue of throwing out the rules in the first place.  Greeny was making the argument that the only reason why these things are violations in the first place are because the NCAA says they are violations, so why not change it so that this is no longer against the rules?

For some reason, Greeny did not think that this was an absolutely ridiculous suggestion, which is funny because he is usually the one that falls back on logic when addressing the issues.  He argued that since this is happening anyway, why not change the rules so that it is permissible?  Golic immediately shot back with the chaos that would ensue.  Eventually, what would happen is that the schools with the most money are going to be the ones who end up winning every year because they can afford the better players.  If that were to happen, then college athletics will go down the drain.

The simple truth is, you shouldn’t change the rules simply because nobody is paying attention to them in the first place.  There are definitely some instances of corruption in college athletics, and they need to be addressed, not praised.  By changing the rules to accommodate the activities that are currently violations would be caving in to the corruption, and there is never an instance in history when that has gone well for anybody.

Secondly, as so often happens, the issue of paying student-athletes also came up.  As somebody who is currently paying of around $60,000 in student loans, I’m completely against the idea of paying student-athletes, particularly the ones who have their tuition, room, board, books, and travel already provided, while the “regular” student often struggles and has to take “breaks” from school in order to pay just the tuition.  And I put breaks in quotation marks because what often happens is that student eventually has to quit school altogether because he/she cannot afford it.

In a survey that took into account 2007/2008 total costs, your average 4 year public university came in a just under $14,000.  Put that over 4 years, and the student-athlete with a full scholarship is getting around $55,000 to go to class, practice and games, while the average student is trying to find a way to scrape all that together just to go to class.  Oh, and by the way, in some schools, do you know what part of that tuition goes to – running the athletic program.

According to USA Today, in 2004/5 Auburn’s athletic program took just under $1 million from student fees.  In 2006/7, that amount was up to $4.9 million.  do you really think the university cut $4 million from it’s budget in other places, or do you think they simply raised tuition?

Now, I will say that there may be legitimate reasons why a student-athlete would want to hold down a job.  While everything they could want that would be school-related is going to be provided, who doesn’t want to go out occasionally, or buy a new game for their Xbox?  Fine.  The NCAA does not permit student-athletes to have jobs because there is the potential that they would be compensated for work that they did not do, or they would be over-compensated for the work they did do.  Perhaps student-athletes should  be able to have a job, but a job that is regulated by the university.

Work-study is a program that allows the student to work on campus.  My experience with work-study several years ago was that the hours and pay per semester are limited.  Perhaps the NCAA could explore work-study as an option for those players who would like to have some extra spending money.  It’s not a lot of money, but even a little would go a long way in removing the temptation to violate the NCAA rules for some extra cash.

Ultimately, it is a problem that is going to have to be dealt with.  Unfortunately what it has come to at this point is that the NCAA needs to start handing out more severe penalties so that the universities will be more self-regulating, and the student-athletes will be held more accountable.

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