Following the NCAA College Football Playoff Championship game, Odell Beckham — a peerless attention craver — got just that. After the game while the players were still on the field, Beckham supplied some with cash.

During the Barstool Sports podcast, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow was asked if it was real money. He said, “I’m not a student-athlete anymore so I can say yeah.” School spokesman Michael Bonnette said LSU was working with the student-athletes, the NCAA and the SEC in order to rectify the situation. Translation: They wanted to maintain their players’ eligibility and not imperil their championship. 

Consider ex-Georgia player, A.J. Green who sold his game jersey to an agent; his penalty was a four-game suspension. Ex-Florida State University players Peter Warrick and Laveranues Coles paid a clerk $21.40, but they purchased designer clothing worth $412.38; FSU dismissed Coles and suspended Warrick two games. Ohio State players exchanged their memorabilia for tattoos; the NCAA placed OSU on a bowl ban, reduced scholarships and slapped on a year probation. OSU pressed head coach Jim Tressel to resign.

The NCAA exhibits an almost pathological fervor to penalize athletes who earn bad grades, smoke marijuana, accept money and, oh no, wolf-free meals. That’s not just my opinion. The USA Today network conducted a year-long investigation entitled “Predator Pipeline” and found even when lauded student-athletes face criminal charges or are convicted of criminal charges, suspended or expelled from school, NCAA rules allow them to transfer and play. The NCAA’s 440-page Division 1 rulebook lacks penalties for sexual, violent or criminal misconduct. Huh.

The NCAA website asserts sexual assault and interpersonal violence on campus are important. Alas, not important enough to compel them to penalize criminal behavior or plug up the cavernous loopholes that allow players to transfer willy-nilly. Offenders devastate their victims’ lives and flee, redeemed by a benevolent coach. The NCAA website claims they’re committed to developing a collaborative approach to create and maintain a safe campus environment. During Martin Luther King’s address at the Prayer Pilgrimage on May 17, 1957, his words also described NCAA bigwigs, “These men so often have a high blood pressure of words and an anemia of deeds.”

One example, two women, in separate incidents, alleged University of South Florida football player LaDarrius Jackson forced himself on them. Police arrested Jackson twice, charging him with sexual battery and false imprisonment. He pleaded not guilty, posted bond and awaited trial. USF expelled him. He violated the non-consensual sexual intercourse policy.

Nevertheless, Jackson resurfaced, playing six games for Tennessee State University the next year. NCAA rules permitted him to transfer, while facing the possibility of a long prison sentence. Since 2014, “Predator Pipeline” discovered at least 33 athletes have transferred to NCAA schools even though their former colleges or criminal courts found them responsible for sexual offenses. The NCAA’s board of governors, an august body, knows about the scourge. However, it has proved unwilling and unable to create solutions. Emmert believes individual schools should decide if players convicted or disciplined for committing sexual assault should be allowed to transfer to other NCAA schools. That’s inexplicable.

The “Predator Pipeline” detonated. And in a remarkable coincident, the NCAA board of governors, plans a special session discussing sexual violence. The NCAA website revealed it has puttered around since 2010 without creating a concrete sexual violence policy. Rep. Donna Shalala, the former University of Miami president, now a Democratic Congresswoman, told USA Today last month the NCAA should have a personal conduct policy for its athletes. Board of governors chairman Michael Drake said the impetus for recent discussion wasn’t directly related to prior reporting. Perhaps, but unlikely.

The NCAA strains its water, lest they swallow a gnat, but swallow a camel.

 

Marc D. Greenwood is a Camp Hill resident and weekly columnist for The Outlook.