Note: This article responds to a column by SI’s Alexander Wolff, which can be found here.
I feel compelled to respond to your most recent plea for the University of Miami to drop football. Unfortunately, you do not provide your address, so hopefully this find its way to your office.
To be clear, I feel the University of Miami’s athletic programs should be punished for any offenses and violations against the NCAA’s rules that determined to have been committed. However, I must point out the inconsistencies in your (renewed) effort against the University of Miami. You begin comparing the football program to a “de facto NFL team,” run by a singular owner Nevin Shapiro. However, you next state that Miami cannot claim Shapiro to be a rogue booster, and now that Shapiro is in jail, the “lawlessness” will cease. If the “owner” is gone, that is precisely what should happen, and there is evidence of this already. Is it not a coincidence that Yahoo! failed to state any allegations against any player that arrived after the 2008 season? This is indeed indicative of the actions of a “rogue booster.” Nevertheless, it’s only a small drop in the bucket of the bigger issue which you discuss later in your article.
Now, as you point out, the University of Miami has become a top 50 school according to a popular ranking publication. As you further pointed out, under Randy Shannon, the team had the nation’s third-best Academic Progress Rate, which begs the question: Was this really a “lawless, rule-breaking, de-facto NFL team” or college athletes succumbing to the temptations of college life? Again, to be clear, there are punishments to be had for failing to follow NCAA rules. But remove the football aspect of these college students and consider the allegations (at worst): free drinks, free food, spending money, suits for a few players, and strippers (I refuse to substantiate the baseless abortion claim). None of these things are prohibited to any non-athlete in college. In fact, all of them are typical, which makes the plea for Miami to drop football seem somewhat out of place in the landscape of your other comments.
No, the “scandal” for which you plea for Miami to drop football is not one that involves the commission of felonies by student athletes, the arrests of student-athletes, the drug charges of student-athletes, the commission of academic fraud by student-athletes, the administration cover-up of murder of one student-athlete by another, or the purchasing of prospective high school athletes in exchange for a commitment (except one allegation against the basketball team, which you did not address). Of course, all the other instances of scandal are either current or very recent allegations against other NCAA institutions, all of whom you failed to plea to drop football, or even assist in revolutionizing NCAA enforcement. I find this more interesting when you consider your reference to Shapiro’s statement on the SEC, especially in light of the aforementioned scandals at some of those institutions, coupled with their admittedly higher success rate on the field (but not in the classroom).
To be fair, you clearly recognize the need for reform is not a problem of the University of Miami, but that of the NCAA. What is unclear is why the University of Miami or Donna Shalala should be tasked with this overwhelming problem. Why not charge the schools that have clearly placed winning ahead of player arrests and academic fraud, much less graduation, with the responsibility to change the system? You must be naive if you think Miami “taking the fall” today will have any effect on any other school. Without addressing the merits of your suggestions, I will point out that there is nothing preventing you from constantly campaigning for changes you also feel need to be made to the NCAA. Where are the articles exposing the broken system of the NCAA? Where is the expose on NCAA investigations and lack of control? Why is there not a “movement” by the media to change the system?
Finally, I take issue with your plea for a temporary moratorium on Miami football, and the release of Al Golden and his staff from their contractual obligations, as this is the exact opposite of what you should demand. You should demand that they fulfill those contractual obligations with the commitment to the standards expected of the NCAA. You should demand that the University of Miami graduate it’s student-athletes. You should demand the University of Miami hold its student-athletes accountable for their actions on and off the field of play. You should demand that student-athletes at the University of Miami succeed within the framework of the NCAA’s rules and regulations. You should demand that the University of Miami be an example of success, not an example of failure.