NCAA Delivers PSU Penalties Monday – But Will it Be Enough?
By this time tomorrow we will know what the NCAA has decided with respect to the penalties Penn State will be faced with in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Will the NCAA bring Penn State down and use them as an example with the Death Penalty, or will tomorrow’s punishment pale in comparison to the enormous publicity hit the university has already experienced?
Interestingly, the NCAA has a real chance on Monday to begin to make things right again in college sports, and I’m not just talking about taking better measures to protect kids. The main reason why the Penn State scandal grew and lasted as long as it did, in my opinion, has a lot less to do with Jerry Sandusky and a lot more to do with the unbelievable amounts of money college sports (football) bring in each year, prompting everyone in and around the machine (including the NCAA) to bite their lips and close their eyes when bad, wrong, illegal, and unethical things occur. I know I am not alone when I sit puzzled trying to think how a college can profess to call itself an institution of higher learning, but in reality the folks in athletics make exponentially more salary than professors, deans, administrators, and even college presidents. It was no different at Penn State, and arguably the biggest reason why nobody spoke up about Jerry Sandusky sooner — after all, who was going to rock the revenue-generating machine???
So will the NCAA take major, paradigm-shifting steps tomorrow, or will they slap PSU on the wrist and claim that the tearing down of the Paterno statue coupled with the resignations of the former PSU regime is plenty enough? Ironically, this is the perfect time for the NCAA to truly step in and begin to re-mold college athletics into what it once was and should be again – a part of the college experience, but not the most important part. It shameful when you think about how colleges still promote themselves as “institutions of higher learning,” yet if you follow the money it’s beyond clear that academics hardly compare to athletics at major colleges when college coaches today routinely make $3, 4, and 5 million dollars a year.
If, on the other hand, the NCAA misses the opportunity for reform that it has in front of it, you can expect more of the same in the future. Sure, it might not be another horrific Jerry Sandusky story, but it will most certainly include more corruption, cheating, bending rules, looking the other way, and doing everything else possible to win games, make money, and bury any and all wrongdoings if and when they occur. After all, why blow the whistle on yourself when you are literally printing your own money by not speaking up?
Some ideas the NCAA should consider:
- Anything and everything to maintain the integrity of the college experience from an academic standpoint! When you put out commercials that highlight the college and show all those scenes of professors, labs, student unions, and all the other iconic academic images, really mean it! Right now it’s all a facade as the money trail hasn’t led to academics over athletics in a long, long time.
- Revenue caps – on literally everything — this isn’t professional sports (although it’s hard to tell the difference anymore)
- New revenue distribution chains — start spreading the athletic earnings throughout each college by adding new scholarships, increasing pay for professors and other university employees, and finding various others way to improve the college, not just the athletic department.
- Reel in coaching staffs by capping their salaries. If they don’t like it let them go be a professional coach. End of story.
- Start squeezing dopey college presidents who condone athletics over academics, and who have a track record of running a sketchy athletic department. This goes for ill-equipped AD’s, too.
- Work with the NFL to create a model that allows talented high school players to jump straight to the NFL. This would lower the corruption rate as you would see less sleaziness in the methods in which colleges recruit 5 star players, as well as minimize the tactics needed to be used to keep poor academic performing kids eligible.
Sure, some of the above proposed ideas might sound a little radical, but are they any more strange than what college sports have become already? Seriously, think about how weird it is for even assistant football coaches to have salaries that literally dwarf tenured full professors! As crazy as it sounds, a well respected professor of 30+ years commonly makes far less money than an assistant football coach (or even strength coach) — it’s amazing there hasn’t been a revolution already! Again I ask, what are you today, colleges? Are you really about education — or greed?
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Dr. Chris Stankovich is a Professional Athletic Counselor and Sport Performance Scientist and studies the psychosocial variables impacting human performance and success. He is the author of 5 books and has had his work featured in numerous national media outlets, including USA Today and ABC World News. Dr. Stankovich is known as "The Sports Doc" for his regular television feature on Ohio News Network and NBC 4 Columbus (OH). For more information on peak performance products, speaking engagements, training seminars, and free education downloads, please visit http://www.drstankovich.com.