MatthewKohn, News and Sports Editor
In 1987, the NCAA handed out the only death penalty in history to the Southern Methodist University football program. The death penalty is the harshest punishment a college can receive because it bans the school from competing in that sport for at least one full year. SMU was shut down for the entire ‘87 year for paying recruits to sign with the team, including future hall-of-fame and all-time great running back Eric Dickerson. Since that one year ban, the Mustangs have not been a relevant football program and are fighting to return to the level of play that they were once known for.
Thirty years later, the NCAA is looking at another situation where the enforcement of the death penalty may be warranted. In the past couple of weeks the news of a massive college basketball scandal has surfaced. The FBI has been investigating certain coaches and overall businesses of eight different colleges. Multiple coaches have been accused of receiving money to pay recruits to sway them to play for their school. Also, Adidas has been under investigation for providing young stars large amounts of money to play for schools that Adidas represents. The programs that have been impacted by the FBI investigation thus far include: Louisville, Arizona, Oklahoma State, Auburn, Southern California, South Carolina, Miami and Alabama.
Of these eight schools, the University of Louisville is under the most scrutiny due to the extremity of the accusations and their past issues with the NCAA. Soon after news of the scandal was released, Louisville fired their hall-of-fame coach, Rick Pitino, along with their athletic director. This is also not Louisville’s first NCAA violation during Pitino’s tenure as head coach. Just last season,Louisville was involved in a scandal that provided escorts and exotic dancers to potential recruits in order to sway them to sign with the Cardinals. That scandal ended with Louisville not being eligible to compete in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. However, the scandal currently being investigated will not go away as easily. Around $100,000 was paid to a single recruit identified as Brian Bowen, who has since been suspended indefinitely for accepting the bribe to commit to Louisville. Also, because the FBI is also involved,it is likely that the punishments are even more severe. If Louisville is able to escape the death penalty, they will still likely be hit with a multi-year suspension from competing in postseason tournaments. Louisville would also lose a large amount of scholarship funds in this scenario.
The other schools will likely receive punishments of less severity, but this type of spotlight will surely tarnish the reputation of those schools. The domino effect has already started though, as many top recruits that have committed to these programs have started decommitting, including five-star Anfernee Simons, who decommitted from Louisville just days after the news broke. This is just the beginning, as recruiting will become a nightmare for the schools involved in this scandal because the schools will have less scholarships to offer and players will not want to go to a school that has a tarnished reputation.
It is likely that the scandal will go on for weeks or even months and that more schools will be found to have been involved. When the FBI finishes it’s investigation and the NCAA hands out the punishments, the results will have an everlasting effect on all of the people and programs involved. This scandal will end careers, ruin the reputations of many and should be a wakeup call to anyone even thinking of doing something corrupt in the NCAA.