Last week, the NCAA passed down sanctions on University of Miami for their illegal recruiting activity. Nevin Shapiro initially gained access to the athletic department as a donor and eventually befriended coaches and administrators. He hosted parties for student-athletes and recruits at his home, on his yacht, at local bowling alleys and in strip clubs. The NCAA concluded that his actions provided improper benefits to these athletes, including paying for meals, hotels for acquaintances, meals for family members, and buying clothes and Christmas gifts for children of some student-athletes.
As a result of these actions, the University of Miami’s athletic program is on probation for three years. They lost nine football scholarships and three basketball scholarships over the next three years. The basketball coach was suspended for five games and former assistant coaches in both football and basketball received two year show cause penalties. Finally, any staff member who sends inappropriate texts to a potential recruit will be fined for their actions.
So is this fair? Many people feel that these sanctions are way too lenient, especially in comparison with the penalties passed down upon Penn State a few years ago. Players actually participated in these activities, reaping the benefits of these illegal recruiting techniques. With Penn State, however, the players had nothing to do with the actions of Jerry Sandusky yet found themselves in a program completely destroyed by the sanctions, which were made before a thorough investigation was completed.
“I didn’t even know who Sandusky was,” said former Penn State player who ended up transferring elsewhere. “I never met this man yet felt the impact of his individual actions. It is really unfortunate that such a reputable program suffered for actions by a sick man. Entire traditions were lost as a result of the horrible decisions of a retired coach.”
Penn State’s original sanctions included about $60 million in fines, 13 years of vacated wins under legendary coach Joe Paterno, the loss of scholarship money and a bowl ban. Just recently, the sanctions were reduced, granting Penn State the ability to gradually restore scholarships as a result of their compliant behavior and extreme efforts. Penn State went on to donate $59.7 million to 26 victims of Jerry Sandusky.
“There is no doubt folks will have a difference of opinion on whether the penalties were too severe or too light,” Banowsky said on a conference call. “We don’t put cases against each other based on the unique nature of each case. In this case, we felt the institution’s self-imposed penalties were significant and unprecedented. The level of cooperation in the case was commendable. Those were factors that weighed into the committee’s thinking.”
It is unquestionable that the actions of both of these schools needed to be addressed and reprimanded. What they did was wrong and completely unacceptable. The question becomes, who is the NCAA trying to punish? Student-athletes should not be punished for the actions of those running their programs. If involved, then it’s fair game but if the athletes did not take part in the controversy, why should they bear the brunt of it?
What do you think about this situation? Do you think these sanctions are fair?