While everyone has an opinion about the NCAA and the penalties imposed by their enforcement branch, nobody has addressed the ancillary impact that these scholarship reductions imposed on USC, Ohio State, and North Carolina are having on future high school recruits. While I personally have no issue with the decision to take away scholarships from universities based on misconduct both in the athletic and academic areas, I think there is a better way to achieve future compliance when these ultimate tools of obedience are imposed; sort of the “win win” approach embraced by those in the mediation business.
As in the world of physics for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction that must be taken into account at the outset of any endeavor and the NCAA is no different. However, the implementation of scholarship reductions has not been properly applied in this context. At the moment the NCAA has only accomplished a portion of what the actual mission is intended to deliver by taking away future scholarship slots at those BCS schools; full compliance amongst all member institutions currently and in the future. Admirable as that mission statement is when recited, it has a disproportionate impact on future student athletic recruits that has not been well thought out when analyzed. For each scholarship that is taken away by a violator program it results in one less opening at that school for a future recruit. So where does that individual go, to another school possibly within the same conference of the penalized institution or somewhere else?
What happens to the faceless student athlete that is now bumped down to another school based solely upon less scholarships being offered at the university he wanted to attend? Well obviously he has to go someplace else where they have a scholarship available. So if you follow this line of reasoning eventually there is a student athlete that gets left out in the cold, or better yet, fully shortchanged much like that pre-school game of musical chairs. He has no seat at all as his slot was taken by someone else and he is relegated to the sidelines left watching as the music starts up again. He has been effectively bumped into oblivion. What’s even worse is that he can see his scholarship just sitting on the sideline for the next four (4) seasons going unused and collecting dust.
So in the next year my count has ten (10) scholarships at USC; three (3) at Ohio State; and five (5) at North Carolina being subtracted from each school for the next three (3) years. That’s fifty-four (54) future student athletes who have been permanently removed from the available pool of student athlete recruit applicants through no fault of their own and that is unacceptable as they are being punished in a way that was never contemplated when this new tool of enforcement was brought into existence. In an effort to rectify this inadvertent snafu, I have an enforcement model that will deliver more impact, or “bang for the buck” than the NCAA is experiencing with their current approach. The best part is that it will have absolutely zero (0) impact on those fifty-four (54) recruits hoping to live out their dream by playing football at the BCS level as now they will be able to fulfill that aspiration without subtracting anyone from the equation.
Let’s take USC since they are being penalized with the most reductions and the formula follows the identical path for both Ohio State and North Carolina in the same way. Each school in the Pac-10 conference (or is it now called the Pac-12?) starting in descending order of finish will each receive one of those ten (10) scholarships based upon their overall record beginning next season. So Washington State will receive an extra scholarship the same season USC loses one of their ten (10), Arizona will receive one, as will Oregon State, etc., until all ten (10) scholarships are absorbed by conference schools based on their season record for the duration of the reductions. Much like the NFL draft is launched with those teams having the worst records picking first in descending order.
So the “win win” is accomplished as no future student athletes are lost in the penalty of scholarship reductions, and those schools who played by the rules and did not commit any infractions will be rewarded with those scholarship players increasing their roster number from 85 to 86 and possibly 88 for the third season of the USC reductions depending on their record. This will hopefully have the same type of impact that results in balancing out the competitive advantage that the NCAA is trying to punish. More importantly, now every coach and athletic department is placed on heightened awareness that future infractions will not only be imposed against their own institution, but will also add to the rosters of the very teams they will be competing against for the next three (3) years into the future as a reward for following the rules.
In the process no student athlete recruit will be punished unintentionally in this process beyond the reality that “a” particular school will not have as many scholarships to offer, but at the same time other schools in that conference will benefit by having an open spot for those ten (10) recruits that ultimately would have had to go some place else and displace yet ten (10) other recruits from their opportunity to attend college and play football on a scholarship. Frankly, I think that these extra scholarship additions to conference opponents will be a significant compliance tool, and the best part is that “no student athlete will be left behind.”
So with Mike Leach now at the helm of Washington State University can he compete better with a roster of 88 against USC who will have a roster of 75? How about Rich Rodriguez in his first season at the University of Arizona? It doesn’t really matter as what is more important is that there will be ten (10) more student athletes enrolled on scholarship in the Pac-10 next year, the year after, and the year after that as opposed to thirty (30) recruits not having an opportunity to play football at the BCS level at all. In turn, there will be thirty (30) student athletes participating at other institutions who would have been displaced as this current model of subtractions without additions works against the very goal of the NCAA by unfortunately penalizing future student athletes.
So the ball is in your court NCAA to take your enforcement tool to the next level and impose an all encompassing penalty that will hopefully cause the desired result of willing compliance by now having the effect of a double whammy that really hits home and then some. Oh I almost forgot; the offending institution will also be required to fund those scholarships at their conference member schools. Now that should get everyone’s attention.