Arguing Cause Hillger

Money Talks

While I enjoy watching college sports, mostly college football, I don't enjoy watching the same teams in championship games every year. It is unfair for the rest of the nation. I do understand that top prospects like to go to top athletic programs to have a better chance at winning a title, but with recent allegations of colleges giving incentives to recruits and athletes already playing, it makes me wonder if this is occurring more often than not. My claim is that universities continue to recruit and pay athletes illegally right underneath the NCAA's nose. The main cause this is happening is because universities want to remain on top and will do anything to do so, it is a win now and often method.

Meet the Bag Man is about Steven Godfrey who interviewed a bag man, undisclosed, that works for an undisclosed Southeastern Conference team and finds out the truth about what is really happening. A bag man is someone who collects and delivers money for a boss or organization. In this particular case, it was the organization. The bag man laid out a series of rules to follow when recruiting athletes:

I. "Just hang out and keep your mouth shut."
II. Discover Crootsylvania, the pay-me state.
III. Even shadow governments have staff meetings.
IV. (Don't) get to know your head coach.
V. There is never a bank account. There is only cash.
VI. The rules of courting.
VII. You will know your enemy.
VIII. Small, simple and frequent.
IX. Just say no to bounties and bonuses.
X. You must keep the circle unbroken. (Godfrey)

These rules of his are meant to keep him and other bag men from getting caught. The bag man gave plenty of examples of what he has done to ensure that recruits will go to their school. The one that is used the most often is buying them a vehicle. They simply work with the family and organize to have the uncle or whoever look like they paid for it, so when it comes to questioning, they will have the proper paperwork, mainly the title for the car. Another example was have the recruits use burners, phones you can buy that have prepaid minutes, to contact your bag man to collect their money and get a new one every few weeks. He once paid for a single mother's rehab so her mother wouldn't have to watch her kids all the time just to get her brother to sign with them. Bag men and organizations go to great lengths to acquire athletes with this system and it won't be going anywhere anytime soon. At the end of the interview, the bag man calls over the bartender and says, "If I told you right now the [team] would win the SEC this fall and go to the Playoff, but only if you gave me 10 grand, would you do it?" to which the bartender replied, "Will you take a check?" (Godfrey).

In the beginning From Dickens to Sampson, it gives a brief look about what happened at the University of Indiana over the past half century, it states:

Since the formalization of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s enforcement powers in the early 1950s, Indiana University has shown a general history of compliance with that organization’s rules. However, two discrete periods—the Phil Dickens football era in the late 1950s and the Kelvin Sampson basketball era of 2006-2008—stand as reminders of the potential consequences of a lack of institutional control over the university’s athletic department. The NCAA investigation of IU’s “Sampson Era” resulted in citations for five major infractions, leading to NCAA-imposed penalties, significant personnel changes in the athletic department, and the loss of nearly every player from the previous year’s team. (123)

It all began when Phil Dickens was hired in 1957 to take over the head coaching job of a struggling football team. At the time, the Big Ten had a need-based scholarship program, a scholarship that renew's yearly depending on your academic grades. This deterred top athletes around the country from coming to Indiana University. Dickens then thought the only way to get recruits to buy into their program was by having boosters and alumni to give them incentives. The main incentive according to From Dickens to Sampson, "Alumnus giving the athletes free vacation transportation between home and Indiana University and some cash" (Pierce and Clavio). While it seemed to work for the first few years, the NCAA eventually caught on and handed down a hefty charge, "The NCAA placed IU on a four-year probation, which included an all-sports ban on television appearances and NCAA championship competition" (Pierce and Clavio). So not only did they put the football team on probation, they put the whole University on probation, which hurt their swimming team from competing for a national title for four years, from 1960 to 1963. Now to the most recent incident, which involved the hiring of Kelvin Sampson in 2006 as the new head coach for the men's basketball team, "Despite his impressive coaching resume, some saw Sampson’s hiring as a risk, due to allegations of NCAA rules violations during his tenure at Oklahoma" (Pierce and Clavio). He was already being investigated by the NCAA from his time spent at Oklahoma. About a month after being hired by IU the NCAA found that Sampson had recruiting violations, which consisted of him illegally contacting potential recruits. This was happening during the time technology was advancing and texting was starting to become popular. So Sampson decided to take advantage while the NCAA worked on revising the policy. It didn't pan out like he wanted and this time only the basketball team was put on probation for three years and a reduction of one men's basketball scholarship. While these charges for both cases may be harsh, that is what the NCAA sought fit.

One of the most recent allegations comes from Syracuse University, which have just recently been found with a slew of infractions laid out in a 94 page report by the NCAA. "Members of the athletic staff forged classwork, players were handed cash for appearances as volunteers, others were allowed to skirt the university’s drug policy without consequence, and dozens more involving the storied program" (Schonbrun). The NCAA is expected to vacate 100 wins of Joe Boeheim's basketball team, lose twelve scholarships over the next four years, Syracuse football is placed on a five year probation and vacate wins from 2004 to 2006, and many more. After the consequences were laid out, Boeheim said that he plans to retire within the next three years.

Another recent allegation was with University of North Carolina where a former college basketball player, Rashad McCants, claimed that he was apart of academic fraud while at UNC. "McCants, in an appearance Wednesday on "Outside the Lines," stood by his allegations and called on all former players from 2004-05 to release their academic transcripts, which would show whether they, too, took bogus African-American studies classes" (ESPN Outside the Lines). In other words, while he was on the team they took "paper classes" where they didn't have to show up to class and their tutors would type the papers for them. Roy Williams, the head coach of the basketball team, denied the allegations and said he had no control over the academic side of the program. This case is still being investigated and with other players admitting to academic fraud as well, there is no doubt they will be found of violating the policy and I won't be surprised if the NCAA strips them of their 2005 national championship.

While there is many more reported cases than what is in this paper, I believe there is plenty more to be discovered. By no means does this mean I will stop watching college sports, I just believe that student-athletes and universities get away with more than any other organization and the NCAA allows it to happen because it gives them millions in revenue each year. Hopefully in the future the NCAA will crackdown harder and more often to eliminate the majority of athletic fraud and illegal recruiting.

Works Cited:

  • Godfrey, Steven. "Meet the Bag Man: How to Buy College Football Players, in the Words of the Man Who Delivers the Money." SBNation. 10 Apr. 2014. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.
  • "McCants: 'All I Know is the Truth'." ESPN Outside the Lines. 11 June. 2014. Web. 28 Mar. 2015.
  • Pierce, David and Galen Clavio. "From Dickens to Sampson: An Examination of NCAA Rules Violations at Indiana University." Indiana Magazine of History. Vol. 107, No. 2 (June 2011): 123-152. JSTOR. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.
  • Schonbrun, Zach. "Syracuse Basketball and Coach Jim Boeheim Hit Hard By NCAA." The New York Times. 6 Mar. 2015. Web. 28 Mar. 2015.

Peer Review

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License