College scandals don’t change - East Valley Tribune: Sports

College scandals don’t change

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Posted: Sunday, February 29, 2004 8:03 am | Updated: 4:44 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Being a bit of a pack rat and one who prefers the independence of having his own material, I began keeping a number of files on work-related issues.

Good reference material, before the creation of personal computers and the Internet.

One file — pretty thick now — contains articles on the ills of college sports. With the latest rounds of scandals this year — didn’t we have a bunch last year, too — the file provides the perspective of just how little things have changed over the years.

Anyone who graduated from the University of Colorado before 1980 must come to the conclusion that there is something systemic in Boulder as many times as the school has been the poster child of what’s wrong with college sports.

The Buffs’ first entry in my file, in 1980, dealt with mismanagement of funds and outlandish spending habits of new football co ach Chuck Fairbanks.

Then there was the crime wave in the late 1980s under Bill McCartney. The NCAA last year cited CU for 51 violations under former coach Rick Neuheisel. Now the current scandal under Gary Barnett.

Perusing the file, the stories are the same, just the names change.

There’s that whole sordid mess in the old Southwest Conference in the 1980s which resulted in SMU receiving the "death penalty," banned from fielding a football team.

On the field, SMU has yet to recover, but so what?

SMU is educating 10,000 students annually, it has enough funds to provide its athletes the opportunity to compete in Division I and alum built a 32,000-seat stadium on campus. Hopefully, SMU will never again sell its soul to win.

Academics, of course, always will be a major issue as long as the unqualified continue to be admitted to our elite institutions.

Recall in 1980 that five Pac-10 schools were on probation for academic fraud concerning bogus credits from a junior college.

Corrective measures were put in place, but academic issues linger.

In the 1990s, it was reported an institution named Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God was providing questionable eligibility credits to players who played for Big 12, ACC, SEC and Big East teams.

Do you remember Clem Haskins and Minnesota? That one was a doozy of an academic scandal that reached all the way up to the vice president. When the educated leadership cheats, whom do we trust?

"There was a lowering of expectations by our coaches. Our recruits were recruited to be athletes, not students. It never was the expectation that they’d get their ass out of bed at 8 o’clock to go to class and turn in their assignments."

That’s what then University of New Mexico president William E. "Bud" Davis told Newsweek in September 1980 when the magazine did a piece on the growing number of schools involved in wrong-doing, one of the subjects the widespread scandal that rocked the Lobos basketball program under coach Norm Ellenberger.

Among a lengthy list of misdeeds, Ellenberger had recruited a player out of prison. Hey, didn’t the Miami Hurricanes recently sign a football prospect who probably should be in prison?

Jerry Tarkanian is in the files for his "work" at Long Beach State, Nevada-Las Vegas and Fresno State. Which begged the question, how did he continue to get hired. Well, you already know the answer.

The file does include recommendations for reform. Whether the proposal was made in 1980, 1990 or 2000, they all amount to the same because the issues — cheating, recruiting, academics, — remain the same.

When TCU was put on probation for the second time in five years, one of the violations was an eye-opener for a young reporter. The NCAA found that in 1981 a TCU booster put a prospect in a motel room four days before signing day where he "was entertained with meals and prostitutes."

Isn’t sex a part of the latest scandal at Colorado?

Three college presidents appeared on "Nightline" last week, and host Ted Koppel reminded the educators he’d been down this road before.

Which is precisely the point.

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