The NCAA's Original Amateurism Sin Dwarfs Miami's Violations

Published on: August 16, 2011 | Written by: Clay Travis

The scariest thing about Yahoo's evisceration of the University of Miami football program? It could happen to any major program in America if the wrong person talked. If disassociated Alabama booster Tom Albetar ever spoke the truth, poof, there goes Alabama's 2009 BCS title. (That's why Alabama fans suggesting that Albetar file a lawsuit is so laughable). If Cam Newton told the truth, poof Auburn's 2010 title is gone. If the biggest Florida booster spoke in 2008, poof, there goes Florida's BCS title. Every single title of the past 50 years, I'm convinced, could be stripped if the whole truth was public.

It's hysterical to claim that lying to the NCAA is a sin when the entire collegiate athletics model is a castle in the sky, no more reliable than the most recent bubble without a foundation, our nation's housing implosion.

College football is built on the biggest lie of all -- the fiction of amateurism.

Major college athletes in football and men's basketball aren't amateurs.

Every single college sports fan in America knows this. Spend any time with former players and they'll recite a litany of NCAA rules violations that they have personal knowledge of. You can either believe that's evidence of systemic cheating or believe what I do, that this is evidence of something even more troubling -- a completely broken NCAA rulebook that relies on an artificial presumption -- that major college athletes are amateurs.

The NCAA rulebook requires that athletes be classified as amateurs to ensure that the only people who profit off the athletes is the NCAA and its member institutions. Change a few of the details from this latest Yahoo story about Miami strip clubs, profligate spending, and the nexus between athletics and cash, and you could just as easily be discussing the Fiesta Bowl's slush fund of expenses. We're talking about a broken system, folks, one that makes liars and hypocrites of everyone it touches.

Both of these situations, the Fiesta Bowl frolic and the NCAA's rules, are evidence of an endemic problem -- on the one hand you have grown adults living excessive lifestyles off the athletic profits of amateurs, on the other hand you have young adults being compensated for their talents. The first is permissible, the second isn't. Doesn't that seem backwards? Of course it does. No sane or reasonable person can defend the current NCAA rules on amateurism. These rules are indefensible, a modern day totalitarianism on our own shores.

Indeed, the NCAA's entire model of enforcement is predicated on ensuring that the people who have nothing still have nothing when they leave. That's the enforcement model! You know what isn't an improper benefit? Rich parents. Lots of college kids have rich parents. So do some athletes. You know which athletes never have impermissible benefits issues? The rich ones. Because everything they want or need they either already have or can get with a phone call.

That's why I have a major issue with the moral angle of NCAA violation stories. Most will react as if the Miami kids have committed some grave crime. You know what they did? Believed in capitalism. You know, capitalism, the age-old notion that you should be compensated for your talents. (And don't give me the crap about the scholarship as compensation. Capitalism is predicated on the notion that you get to choose your compensation. How many of these same people making the scholarship argument would be willing to do their high-paying job in exchange for free tuition? For four years? Here's one vote for...hell no.)

In fact, you know what's craziest about these Miami violations and no one is talking about? Many of them happened on the watch of Randy Shannon, the head coach who kept the Hurricanes from getting arrested while his rival Florida program racked up arrest after arrest. At one point the Florida Gators had 30 arrests to Miami's one over a four year period. Poor Randy Shannon, he was too busy stopping felonies and not busy enough stopping free drinks. You know what shouldn't be a moral issue? Getting a drink paid for by someone else. That means you're ineligible to play football. Meanwhile threatening to kill a bitch means you miss a few games. Hell, most arrests don't even merit a game suspension. Get a free shirt and the NCAA will chase you to the end of the Earth. Beat someone to a bloody pulp on campus and you're probably starting on Saturday. Again, if you want to go morality angle on me -- the laziest possible of all arguments -- let's get real, arrests are immoral, being rich and taking from the poor is immoral, enforcing a code of justice that requires all governed by those rules to lie, that's immoral.  

Getting a free meal?

That's not immoral in the least.

Hell, you know who would have been ineligible to play football under NCAA rules for improper benefits? Jesus.

I'm not even joking. Go read the New Testament, dude was a walking NCAA violation in a loincloth.  

So while Miami's perceived morality failings will be the underlying theme of much of the media coverage surrounding the Hurricanes, I'd like y'all to think about it from this angle: if you want to correlate morality and college athletics, the immoral act is creating a system that requires the poor to remain poor while the rich get richer off their labor. And the immoral act is setting up a system of enforcement predicated on investigating any poor kid that gets a benefit anywhere. Find out he got anything, and bam, he's ineligible.  

The most immoral actor in college athletics is always going to be the NCAA. Because the NCAA has an indefensible job rooted in immorality.  

At OKTC we're going to break stories about improper benefits not because we believe they're offensive to traditional notions of fair play and justice, but because we believe it's time that the present system dies. It's broken, utterly. Like any system that relies upon lies to continue to exist. If every college program in America, coaches and players, walked into the compliance office tomorrow and confessed everything, there wouldn't be a single probation-free program in college football.

That's a fact.

It's to the point where schools that win championships should have two parades -- the day they return from winning a title and the day the NCAA's four year statute of limitations runs out. Because it's only then we know that the title will actually count. And even then that title is built on a foundation of NCAA lies. Beginning with the greatest original sin of all, the lie of amateurism.  

The moment an honest actor appears -- and here the "honest actor" is in jail responsible for a billion dollar Ponzi scheme -- the NCAA swoops in and pretends that its rendering justice by cleaning up a rogue program. But that's a lie that no reasonable person should believe. The NCAA is actually just meting out arbitrary justice to a program that is violating NCAA rules just like every other NCAA program. The NCAA is a traffic cop pulling a single program from a stream of speeders and pretending that it is the worst violator, that it is doing something different than its peer group, that justice is being served, morality preserved.

Some are already calling for Miami to be given the death penalty and saying these are the worst violations in NCAA history. 

Please. 

The worst violation in NCAA history is the present-day NCAA rulebook.