By Tamara Latta
The NCAA announced Monday that it would strip the USC Trojans of their 2004 National Title by the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). Reggie Bush, who was a star running back at USC from 2003 to 2005 and now plays for the New Orleans Saints, was accused of taking money and other benefits from a sports marketing company in 2010, which led to an NCAA violation. The stripping of the BCS title was unforeseen by USC and now adds more fuel to their fire.
After being suspended from bowl games for two years and having more than 30 scholarships taken away for three years, USC is back in the negative spotlight with the recent NCAA ruling. The NCAA seems to be more focused on USC than any other college right now, leaving the door open for discussion on if the NCAA is engaging in hypocrisy. Is it now safe to say that the BCS picks and chooses who it wants to go after, or should we just say that it favors the Southeastern Conference (SEC) more than the Pac 12?
There is a lot of wrongdoing going on right now in college sports. Ohio State and Auburn also created a fiasco at their schools and have yet to suffer like USC has. The NCAA did not find their violations to be as severe as USC’s. After finding out that five Ohio State players, including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, were selling memorabilia that included Big Ten championship rings and gold pants, the NCAA suspended them for the first five games of the 2011 season. They were still granted permission to participate in the 2004 Sugar Bowl against Arkansas on January 4, 2011, despite the violations being discovered early on. Auburn was also under investigation because their star quarterback, Cam Newton, was being shopped around during his college recruitment process, with a very expensive price tag, asking for $180,000 to bring his talents to “a city near you.” The NCAA did confirm, however, that it was Newton’s father who had done “the dirty work,” but Newton was cleared and able to compete and win the National Title for his 2011 season.
This is where the favoritism hits and we really start to wonder if the NCAA has something personal against the Trojans. If we dissect all three scandals, they all have a lot in common. But USC was brutally penalized and had to endure all the pain. All three schools are very prestigious colleges, and their football programs bring in billions of dollars.
In 2004 USC had 20 players that got drafted into the NFL. Those players worked very hard and earned that championship against Oklahoma. Does every player deserve to be punished because of someone else’s actions over which they have no control? You cannot monitor every player on the roster to make sure they are staying clean.
The NCAA needs to come up with a solution to their ongoing problems. Paying college players a salary would most definitely be the first step. There are ways to try and crack down on college misconduct. It should be illegal for boosters and outsiders to approach college players and try to lure them with gifts and money. We can’t blame 18- and 19-year-olds for taking gifts; they’re still growing and learning. But we can point the finger at adults who know this is a greedy, self-centered act. If this could become a felony, I can guarantee you that this disgraceful debacle would decrease by the hour. We have got to do better when it comes to college sports; it’s becoming very distasteful to our society.