People can develop grudges. I guess it’s a part of the human condition. But here’s a doozy… and it sucks. University of Miami (or “The U” to those of you who are from Miami) booster Nevin Shapiro has been arrested for fraud and now is deciding to open the floodgates after his former players, now NFL superstars, didn’t come to his aid over his legal problems. In over 100 hours of in-jail interviews he named names and gave details of all the illicit benefits he provided for a minimum of seventy-two players over an eight-year period (2002-2010) and said that everyone in the front office knew about it! Shapiro is willing and has already started to release names, pictures, bank statements, and credit card bills to prove the extent of illegal activity that went on. You can read the actual article posted on Yahoo yesterday here but I’d like to present a rather controversial and apposing opinion.Granted we all know that this kind of activity is illegal and taken very seriously by the NCAA that could result in extreme consequences including lost scholarships, cancelled seasons, revoked championships and even revoked Heisman trophies to name a few. (Consider Reggie Bush and Cam Newton just recently) And that’s fine because it’s stated in the rulebook that these things aren’t permitted. My question is: “So what?”
The University of Miami is not the first school or set of players to deal with similar allegations of illegal benefits. Most of what you here is about players getting cars, clothing, and cash. But that takes me back to my original argument of “so what.” These illicit benefits don’t give these players any kind of COMPETITIVE EDGE on the football field. These benefits don’t make them bigger or stronger or smarter players. This isn’t like these players are being supplied with illegal HGH and steroids. Ergo, I fail to see why the NCAA go on a nervous over these stories.
I guarantee you there are dozens, if not more, schools that are involved in similar or the same things right now. They just haven’t gotten caught yet… but they will. My proposal for a solution: have the NCAA big wigs meet and decide on a universal detailed, air-tight, iron clad contract that would give every NCAA program (of all sports and regardless of division) a budget for recruitment purposes. If you want to give a student athlete a stipend beyond a scholarship for extra food, a trip to the movies, or even a vacation in the off-season to Cancun, fine. Just come up with a unilateral and indisputable contract for the players and the program. If and when they discover violations of said contract, then just kick the kid out of school and make him ineligible to play that sport at the college level ever again.