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The NCAA has been punishing misdemeanours as murders for years.And now that Miami football looks to have committed legitimately serious violations, it leaves the NCAA with no choice but to obliterate the program.
Take USC as an example.
The crime: One football player, Reggie Bush, took gifts totaling nearly $300,000 from a sports agent when he was a playing at USC in 2004. In addition, one basketball player, O.J. Mayo, was steered to USC by a middleman who allegedly received cash from the program.
The punishment: A two-year postseason football ban, four years’ probation, 30 lost scholarships, and forfeiting of all games in the team’s championship-winning 2004 season. In addition, a one-year postseason basketball ban, and forfeiting all wins from Mayo’s lone season (self-imposed).
You can debate whether the punishment fits the crime. But if this is how the NCAA punishes USC, how in the world are they going to punish Miami, whose violations were more serious and involved 73 players and a half-dozen coaches?
No one wants one of the most storied and exciting programs in college football history to get the vaunted “death penalty.”
But with the sentencing precedents it set with USC and other schools, the NCAA has put itself in the position of having to do exactly that to maintain any semblance of fairness and consistency.
The choice: Will the NCAA throw consistency out the window to keep one of its glamor programs afloat? Or will it hit Miami with harsh sanctions the likes of which we haven’t seen since SMU received the death penalty in 1987?