Posted: Thursday January 6, 2011 1:48PM ; Updated: Friday January 7, 2011 2:23AM
Frank Deford
Frank Deford>VIEWPOINT

NCAA football: All dollars, no sense

Story Highlights

NCAA rulings on Newton, Pryor prove the body is only concerned with money

If either were suspended in 2010, the NCAA's meal ticket (the bowls) would suffer

And yet, the NCAA chides the players for trying to get a slice? What hypocrisy!

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terrelle_pryor.jpg
Terrelle Pryor was suspended for five games in 2011 for selling memorabilia. The delayed suspension allowed him to play in the Sugar Bowl, which posted record ratings on ESPN.
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

It's fair to call the NCAA cynical and calculating and just plain stupid, but the latest of this year's many scandals primarily shows that it is simply shoveling water against the tide, that big-time college football just doesn't work any longer with a model developed for a nineteenth century culture.

The latest scandal: Ohio State. Five players, including the star quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, are caught selling their own memorabilia. Only down the NCAA rabbit hole does doing business with stuff that is your property, like uniforms you wore -- yourself -- merit punishment.

Previous scandal: NCAA declares that the father of Cam Newton, the Heisman Trophy winner at Auburn, tried to sell his son to Mississippi State.

Other recent scandals: reports from various agents and investigators that one way or another, college players are taking money. Probably lots and lots of them.

Why should any of this be surprising? College football is a billion dollar enterprise now, and everybody involved is making money -- sometimes millions -- except the players themselves. Human nature tells us that it is impossible to expect that the performers wouldn't also want to share some in the bounty. Look what happened in tennis and skiing and track and field and all other sports that tried to maintain the ghost of amateurism on the international championship level amidst a plethora of moneybags.

You know what the NCAA looks like now? Like the Soviet Union as it struggled to maintain Communism in a changing world that wouldn't tolerate its outdated nonsense any longer.

Proof that the NCAA is being whipsawed by reality comes in its decisions in these last two scandals. It decided that somehow Cam Newton didn't know his own father was hustling his talent. The result? No penalty.

It listened when the Ohio State athletic department pleaded that it hadn't done its job right in advising the players. The Ohio State five were suspended ... but, get this now, only at the start of next season.

Obviously, the NCAA made these curious decisions because it realized that expelling Newton or suspending the Buckeye players now would deal heavy financial losses to its distinguished member schools and its meal ticket, the bowls -- taking Auburn out of the BCS championship game and damaging the Sugar Bowl, where Ohio State played last night on ESPN, the network the NCAA wants so much to please.

The NCAA is influenced by all the money at stake. It mouths crazy, old-fashioned moral pretense, keeping its players as serfs, yet is primarily just looking after the economic welfare of its so-called educational constituents.

Oh, by the way, remember the jerseys that the players sold? Go to the Ohio State website. The college sells the same jerseys, and somehow, that's legal.

Where is Ronald Reagan to holler, "Mr. NCAA, tear down that wall of hypocrisy!"

 
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