The CFB Girl’s “Interview” with the NCAA regarding Miami and the Death Penalty Question

I’m not privy to the same information that the NCAA is, but I don’t see how giving Miami the death penalty is good for college football.

Completely shutting down a team has only been done once before in the history of NCAA football.  The NCAA shut down SMU in 1987 and the school chose to step out for the 1988 season as well due to lack of players and a need to rebuild.  It severely crippled the program, which hasn’t been the same since.  It took them over 20 years just to get back to a bowl game (2009). The severity of SMU’s punishment relied upon the fact that they had faced sanctions multiple times in the previous decade and yet continued to violate the rules.  According to the AP, “The money kept flowing because school officials, including former Texas Gov. Bill Clements, the head of SMU’s board, were afraid that players already on the payroll would expose the cheating if they were cut off.”

In the case of Miami, booster Nevin Shapiro claims to have provided improper benefits to Miami football players and some others for a period of about nine years.  Shapiro, of course, was questioned in conjunction with the finding that he was operating a $930 million Ponzi scheme, for which he is serving a 20-year federal prison term. If the NCAA makes an exception to their traditional four-year statute of limitations to go back to when the improper benefits began around 2002, because Miami was already on probation for activities by its baseball team, the NCAA could invoke its “willful violators” clause.  And NCAA President Mark Emmert has already stated that the death penalty is an option.

I most recently interviewed the NCAA (in my head) about this and what they are trying to accomplish:

TheCFBGirl: How does the baseball team’s infractions have any relationship to the football team?

Imaginary NCAA Representative:  If the baseball players have extra money to throw parties, that will attract more women, which in turn attracts more men, including football players.  Any benefit to the players at a school is a benefit to the school and all of those who attend.  Miami should probably lose some academic scholarships as well just to be fair.

TheCFBGirl: If the women’s basketball team goes out after each win and celebrates in South Beach, where people may attempt to buy them drinks, and if one of those people turns out to be buying them drinks only because of their athletic status at Miami and even turns out to be a booster, even if the women didn’t realize this, would this be an infraction?  And, furthermore, if it were established that the buyer of the drinks was actually trying to sleep with one of the women, does that negate the improper benefit aspect and mean that she and her friends wouldn’t have to pay back the value of the drinks?

Imaginary NCAA Representative:  It really depends on what these women look like.  If a reasonable person would judge them as attractive, then there is an assumption that there were no improper benefits, which can be negated by evidence otherwise.  However, if the woman actually hooks up with the drink-buyer then there is no need to provide evidence because the absolute conclusion is no wrongdoing.

TheCFBGirl: Why do you think that student-athletes, boosters and agents alike do not understand and/or respect the NCAA rules?

Imaginary NCAA Representative:  They are jealous of our power.

TheCFBGirl: In the past 18 months, football teams at Southern California, Ohio State, Auburn, Oregon, Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and LSU all have been investigated or sanctioned by the NCAA. Do you think that those eight schools are the only ones that have potential violations?

Imaginary NCAA Representative:  If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it fall, does it make a sound?

TheCFBGirl:  Just because other schools don’t have boosters involved in billion dollar ponzi schemes or affiliations with drug dealers facing punishment of up to 40 years in prison and $2 million doesn’t mean they aren’t committing infractions.  Why haven’t you taken the time to investigate others?

Imaginary NCAA Representative:  Because those schools are smart enough not to get involved with Bernie Madoff.

TheCFBGirl:  Do you have a way to police the schools on your own or do you simply rely on those programs/boosters who are big enough to warrant government investigations?

Imaginary NCAA Representative:  Ain’t no such things as halfway crooks.

TheCFBGirl:  Huh?

Imaginary NCAA Representative:  Huh?

TheCFBGirl: If these infractions took place at Miami for almost a decade, why did you fail to catch them?

Imaginary NCAA Representative: Have you been to South Beach?  Do you know how hard it is to concentrate on an investigation when there are parties that go on all night and never get boring or tired.  We just don’t have that kind of manpower.

TheCFBGirl: If one aspect of these rules is to protect the other teams in the FBS in order to make it competitively fair, and if you were to determine that every single team that is a member of the FBS had players who had committed a violation of the NCAA rules, would that result in just wiping out all of the penalties?

Imaginary NCAA Representative:  Wouldn’t it just be easier to wipe out all of the teams? I mean, no, we actually have anticipated that and have a reality show in the works to deal with all of the violators.  It is called the Real Ballers of the NCAA and each infractor would compete to see who can throw the best party on someone else’s dime and other events of that nature.  We would only take the top transgressors and each week one would be eliminated until we have a winner.

TheCFBGirl: Is it reasonable to believe that given 120 FBS teams, each with about 85 scholarship players (theoretically), statistical probability suggests that there may be at least one player on each of those teams receiving improper benefits?

Imaginary NCAA Representative:  I’m sorry, but this idea of statistics and football is entirely new to me.

TheCFBGirl:  Have you included former players in your analysis to determine what rules are enforceable and actually protect the student-athlete and fair competition versus those that are overly burdensome and too difficult to monitor?

Imaginary NCAA Representative:  Yes we have and they have helped us understand which rules are overly burdensome and difficult to monitor.  You can find a comprehensive summery of those rules in the current NCAA Manual for 2010-2011.