Here is a perfect case study on why something needs to be done to address NCAA rules and violations.
Here's a quick overview:
An investigation discovered that O.J. Mayo (a 2007-08 USC freshman basketball player) had received money to help lure Mayo to commit to play basketball at USC from Rodney Guillory, a USC booster, which was a violation of NCAA rules.
In a preemptive move, USC self-imposed the following sanctions:
• No postseason play in 2009-10, including the Pac-10 conference tournament.
• A reduction of one scholarship for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years.
• Reducing the number of coaches permitted to recruit off-campus by one during the summer of 2010.
• Reducing the number of recruiting days for the 2010-11 academic year, to 110 from 130.
Kudos to USC for taking these violations so seriously and sending a message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated... however, let's see how this affects those people primarily involved with the violations:
O.J. Mayo left USC after his freshman year and is now playing in the NBA for Memphis Grizzlies. As far as I can tell, his $4 million salary for the 2009-10 season will not be affected by USC's sanctions.
Tim Floyd, coach of USC at the time of the alleged violations, fled USC at the first talk of allegations, and is now an assistant with the New Orleans Hornets. Floyd also appears to be immune to USC's self-imposed sanctions.
Rodney Guillory's role in all of this still isn't quite clear to me, but appears he would be the basketball equivalent of a pimp as he helped steer Mayo to USC. Additionally, according to Wikipedia, Guillory received approximately $200,000 from BDA Sports for ensuring Mayo signed with BDA Sports when he turned professional. USC's sanctions... 0 for 3.
Who was affected by USC's sanctions? The current USC team is riding a 9 game winning streak and is poised to make a run in the Pac-10 this year. As far as the investigation is concerned, none of the current players received money to play for USC. However, none of the current players will be allowed to play in the Pac-10 or NCAA tournaments. Kevin O'Neill, the current USC basketball coach was coach of the Arizona Wildcats during the 2007-08 season -- it's very hard to imagine he was involved with the USC's recruiting during the time of the alleged violations... at least not without some sort of magic bullet theory. Yet, O'Neill gets to be the one to tell his players that their season will be ending March 6th this year for the last regular season game.
I was trying to come up with an analogous scenario outside of the NCAA to compare this to, but it's so ridiculous that it doesn't exist. This would be like a company finding out that a previous employee had been stealing money from the company, so in order to set things right, the company decides to stop paying newly hired employees.
I'm sure these issues have been debated exhaustively, but there needs to be a better way to address NCAA violations. The NBA is so dependent on the NCAA for quality athletes, it would be great if the NCAA had some sort of jurisdiction within the NBA to impose suspensions or fines for players and/or coaches within the NBA who have been in violation of NCAA rules. As a highly recruited high-school kid, I'm not saying that OJ Mayo fully understood that what he was doing at the time was a violation, but he was definitely more at fault than the current players on the USC roster who are now paying for his mistakes.
Additionally, the school should have more responsibility for policing its teams and programs for NCAA compliance. Rather than punish the student-athletes not involved with the violations, the university itself could be forced to forgo a percentage of its TV rights for all sports if the university is found in violation.
In this particular case, why not make some of these NCAA violations a criminal offense? Essentially, Rodney Guillory was taking advantage of a minor and should also be held accountable for what he allegedly did.
Similarly, coaches should be held responsible for violations during their coaching term across the NCAA. It might make it more difficult for coaches like John Calipari to jump ship from UMass to Memphis to Kentucky after questionable events during each of his coaching tenures.
There are very good reasons why NCAA rules exist -- unfortunately, all too often, the results of NCAA sanctions leave this former student-athelete scratching his head.