My colleague Matt Moore has an interesting post in our NBA blog about some interesting comments from Stan Van Gundy in relation to the scandal at Miami that has some believing the football program should get the so-called death penalty. Basically, the Orlando Magic coach blamed the NCAA's system for the problems that plague college athletics, then suggested the only way to fix the system is to eliminate the entire rule book.
“[We should] let the schools decide whom they enroll and how — no entrance or eligibility requirements, how much the boosters want to pay them and whether or not they go to class. There are two rules. You play only four seasons, and the upper age limit is 25. No other rules. Players who are paid must declare their income and pay taxes on it. If they don’t and get caught, then they have to deal with the IRS and instead of giving back the Heisman they risk going to jail. This drops the myth about amateurism and education. It allows players to get paid but puts it out in the open. Now people can stop hiding behind their idealism about the purity of college athletics and let you know what the school and alumni truly value. NCAA enforcement is the drug war. We’ve lost. Let’s find a different, more realistic approach.”The reason I love that quote is because it touches on something I've spent a lot of time talking to coaches about recently -- that the only way to really "clean up" college athletics is to eliminate the rules because amateurism as defined by the NCAA has never worked and will never work. There's just no reason to believe we will ever stop agents and boosters and coaches and shoe companies from buying prospects for schools. Van Gundy's solution to this problem is to strip away all the BS and make college athletics a legalized free-for-all, and that's an idea I could get behind because it would bring everything above board.
It probably wouldn't change much in regards to which teams win and which teams lose.
I genuinely believe that if we told all football programs and all basketball programs that they could, for the next 15 years, do whatever they want to do to field whatever kind of team they want to field, that our next 15 national champions in both sports would look a lot like our last 15 national champions in both sports. They'd be the same lists, give or take a school or two, because the schools that care the most and spend the most would win the most, and that's pretty much the way it is right now anyway. The only difference would be that nobody would call that system "hypocritical," and nobody would whisper about cheating when a school wins a title because everybody would know exactly what everybody did to get everybody on campus.
No more lies.
No more secrets.
Is it a far-fetched idea?
But it's much more honest than the system we've got now.