DON’T Give the Miami Hurricanes the Death Penalty: Give it to the NCAA

Thursday morning’s cover of USA Today blared the two words on everyone's lips: “the death penalty.” No, this isn’t because Texas Governor Rick Perry – who just loves executin’ innocent and guilty alike - is now running for President.  It’s the fate that most people believe awaits the storied football team at the University of Miami. The death penalty means that the NCAA will for an indeterminate time shut down the entire Hurricanes program. It’s a brutal, financially crippling fate that many believe Miami has more than earned, following a Yahoo Sports expose by Charles Robinson which detailed eight years of amateur violations that would make Dennis Rodman blush. A mini-Madoff financial criminal named Nevin Shapiro, currently serving 20 years behind bars, offered prostitutes, payola, jewelry, yacht parties and every possible South Beach excess for the Hurricane players. While corrupting the athletic program, he was simultaneously being feted by school President, former Clinton cabinet member Donna Shalala and Hurricanes athletic director Paul Dee. They even let him on two occasions lead the team out of the tunnel on game day.

 

This bombshell has the moral majority of sports journalists in full froth, rushing to the barricades to defend amateur sports. We have people like Sporting News columnist David Whitley, to use merely one example, writing, “The only way to make Miami behave is a long timeout. No more football, smoke and parties for a couple of years. Nothing else has a chance of ending the culture of corruption that is The U.” He even calls Miami "the Ben Tre of college football", writing, “American forces wiped out the village to get rid of the Viet Cong, prompting a timeless explanation from the U.S. commander: ‘It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.’ The only way to save Miami is to destroy it, stripper pole and all.” But like the war in Vietnam, not to mention the actual death penalty, the call for the NCAA to shut down the program is dead wrong. As with capital punishment, eliminating the Hurricanes is an exercise in hypocrisy that does nothing but ensure these scandals will happen again and again.

 

What this scandal should produce, instead of the isolation and destruction of one program, is a serious reflection on the gutter economy that is college athletics. Players cannot be paid openly and legally so instead we get the amoral wampum of “amateur sports.” Reading the Yahoo Sports story, it’s difficult to not be chilled by the casual misogyny detailed as strippers, “escorts” and hookers were purchased and handed to players like party favors. You wonder why over 80% of NFL players get divorced after retirement. It’s because as teenagers, they are mentored by parasites like Nevin Shapiro who show them that women are the exchange value for their lucrative labor. This kind of gutter economy also has an ugly echo in old slave plantations, as the prized sports specimens in the antebellum South were handed women by the masters in return for their athletic prowess. Or as David Steele wrote earlier this week, ”Of course, America’s tender little feelings will be bruised if this is equated to slavery, or a plantation economy, or a plantation mentality. Fine. Maybe it can live with a metaphor like sharecropping. You do all the work, we take all the profits, we compensate you with the bare necessities of life, and tough break if you don’t like it."

 

The metaphor works because once you wave away the smoke and hot air, this is about jock sniffing criminals and corrupted college Presidents taking advantage of primarily poor African Americans from the South, who see everyone getting paid but them. One anonymous University of Miami player told Yahoo Sports about University running back Tyrone Moss, who took $1,000 from Shapiro. “The guy had a kid while he was in college, a little Tyrone Jr.,” the player said. “He comes in poor as [expletive] from Pompano and he’s got a little kid to feed. I could barely feed myself. I can’t imagine having to feed a kid, too. Of course he’s going to take it when someone offers him $1,000. Who wouldn’t in that situation?”

 

The solution lies in paying the players but it also lies in driving a stake through the heart of the NCAA as an instrument of enforcement. Having the NCAA shut down the program only reinforces the illusion that they are the motor of morality, compliance and justice, when in fact they are the corrupters of these concepts. Already, NCAA President Mark Emmert, he of the seven figure salary, has been across the national media, preaching about protecting, “The integrity of intercollegiate athletics.” Emmert and his 14 assistants, each who make at least $400,000 a year, will stand on their soapbox and quarantine the bad boys of Miami just in time to save the Golden Goose: the billion dollar television contracts, and the $135 million from the Bowl Championship Series used to crown a fake national champion.

 

They defend amateurism as an end unto itself, but this is also complete nonsense. As Patrick Hruby wrote at espn.com last year, “Philosophically speaking, amateurism is malarkey, about as credible as the Tooth Fairy. The Victorian-era English aristocrats who came up with the concept ascribed it to the ancient Greeks, who supposedly competed for nothing more than glory, honor and olive wreaths. The only problem? History and the legend don't match. Modern archeology suggests that the ancient Olympics were rife with spoils. Think prize money, prime amphitheater seats, generous pensions and civic appointments. According to Olympic historian Tony Perottet, one Games winner even parlayed his victory into a senatorial seat in Athens. Indeed, the ancient Greeks didn't even have a word for amateur, and the closest term --idiotes -- needs no translation."

 

Let what has happened at Miami be a wakeup call: the NCAA has about as much moral authority to give “the death penalty” as Rick Perry. If this ends with the NCAA giving Miami the  death penalty, then the “gutter economy” survives and we are all the worse for it. If you listen closely, you can hear King Leopold’s chains rattling in the NCAA’s halls, haunting and guiding the daily maneuvers of this “non-profit” that enriches itself by paying its laborers nothing. Shut it down and end the culture of corruption once and for all.

 

[Dave Zirin is the author of “Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games we Love” (Scribner) and just made the new documentary “Not Just a Game.” Receive his column every week by emailing dave@edgeofsports.com. Contact him at edgeofsports@gmail.com.]

41 Reader Comments | Add a comment

personal repsonsibllity...

ncaa players should try it sometime

that said the 2001 canes are the probably the best college football team of all time and the 7th floor crew is a great song


Love it

The athletes should have taken every stripper,envelope, and line of coke presented to them as payment for risking permanent injury for the U. I was watching Spartacus the other day and the ancient Roman gladiators ;who were slaves ,got better compensation than college football players.

Money is Honey

"The solution is paying the players..." This statement by DZ is correct but without knowing the details such as how much and to whom it's meaningless. DZ's solution works if you pay the athletes stipends that range in the thousands. Note DZ doesn't furnish the reader with the amount athletes are to be paid. If you pay athletes $10,000/year, problem solved. They can buy prostitutes/escorts(male or female),engagement rings(allegedly Devin Hester), yacht parties on their own. But the figures I've heard bandied about the pundits add only in the hundreds/month. This will not stop boosters from providing the extra 95% that our athletes need to round out their 1 or 2 year college education.

The next question is who gets paid. DZ omits this information also. I assume he would want women's lacrosse/hockey,etc. to get paid because they should. Where does this leave the atlhletic departments financially?

I don't have a solution, but I do recognize that money is the problem. And this problem can not be solved by adding more money rather by subtracting it. Go the way of Div. 3 but this probably will not occur because money is honey

PS. BTW when I was in college I would have refused any slush money(it never was offered) for fear that I would divorce my future wife.

A potential solution

I don't know if this solution is feasible, but it would seem to me that it would be best to take the amateur sports away from the NCAA altogether in the big money sports. The reason is that, if you take the plantation argument further, you could argue that colleges in general run off of this model. If you cannot afford to pay, you literally indenture yourself for life to an institution. Student loan debt often determines what someone can or can't do. Not to mention that students in college have trouble affording the basic necessities and can end up working poor quality dirty jobs at the university itself. Thus, it's hard to say that universities wouldn't simply find another form of the NCAA to get around what they already have.

The perfect solution would require economic changes far outside of the sports industrial complex. However, maybe this is a partial solution. Take the system used in European soccer or even the old territorial rights system, but with an important twist. A team can scout a player and sign them as young as they want in the NFL, NBA, NHL, etc. However, for every year they sign them, they have to pay a certain amount per year that they are signed, regardless of age. There is still the possibility of collusion among the league's team, but all it takes is a couple of teams deciding that they want access to a player early on in their career and that forces other teams to follow suit. Also, to avoid the loss of free agency rights, they could have the contract be called a developmental contract, meaning that the player would have free agency rights after maybe year 1 or 2. Again, this system isn't perfect either and definitely has flaws (such as the fact that the number of football franchises are held artificially low and the supply of young football players is extremely high), but it would take the NCAA largely out of the equation.

A potential solution

I don't know if this solution is feasible, but it would seem to me that it would be best to take the amateur sports away from the NCAA altogether in the big money sports. The reason is that, if you take the plantation argument further, you could argue that colleges in general run off of this model. If you cannot afford to pay, you literally indenture yourself for life to an institution. Student loan debt often determines what someone can or can't do. Not to mention that students in college have trouble affording the basic necessities and can end up working poor quality dirty jobs at the university itself. Thus, it's hard to say that universities wouldn't simply find another form of the NCAA to get around what they already have.

The perfect solution would require economic changes far outside of the sports industrial complex. However, maybe this is a partial solution. Take the system used in European soccer or even the old territorial rights system, but with an important twist. A team can scout a player and sign them as young as they want in the NFL, NBA, NHL, etc. However, for every year they sign them, they have to pay a certain amount per year that they are signed, regardless of age. There is still the possibility of collusion among the league's team, but all it takes is a couple of teams deciding that they want access to a player early on in their career and that forces other teams to follow suit. Also, to avoid the loss of free agency rights, they could have the contract be called a developmental contract, meaning that the player would have free agency rights after maybe year 1 or 2. Again, this system isn't perfect either and definitely has flaws (such as the fact that the number of football franchises are held artificially low and the supply of young football players is extremely high), but it would take the NCAA largely out of the equation.

Sorry for the double post and...

Again, this solution isn't perfect. A perfect solution to address the problem requires changes in the:

1) Economic system

2) Educational System

3) Major changes or eliminations of various industrial complexes besides sports such as the military industrial complex and prison industrial complex).

Perfect Solution

Instead of sticking fingers in the dam why not just let the waters flow. Get rid of compliance officers and let the Div. 1 Basketball and Football players sell as much merch, sign with whomever, and accept as many no show jobs as they want. Like New Amsterdam in the Wire. Then we can stop with the hypocritical hand wringing by rich old white men.

Minor League

How about a development league like A-Ball or the AHL instead of college ball? Oh wait, those aren't free teams provided by colleges.

Personal Responsibility?

Are you kidding me? You mean like taking money to feed your kids? Yeah you are right. That is totally irresponsible.

personal responsibility is always supposed to



happen. always, no excuses.


"professor", you are an enabler.


Hey dexx

How about demanding that the NCAA take personal responsibility for creating this system that is keeping these kids poor and forcing them into accepting money from boosters?

nobody is "forcing" them to do anything



they make a conscious choice to break the rules. and it is breaking the rules, and breaking the law.


it is all about choices and they made the wrong one, dont be a enabler.

if one of these guys IS poor, how does getting a big suv and strippers help his situation in any way? that's right, it doesn't...




these kids could get jobs just like every other college student.


ah dexx

No they can't just get jobs, beacuse they are not like other colledge students in that they are already putting in 40+ hours a week doing their respective sports. So really my response to you is they already have jobs, which they produce a lot of revenue at as well.
And yes they are forced to accept money in many circumstances because like everyone else they need money to survive (kind of common sense)
As for being an enabler, let me ask you why you are enabling a system where EVERYONE accept the people producing the revenue get a cut of that revenue? Please, you and people like you are the real enablers in all this. This system is broken beyond repair and anyone with the smallest bit of common sense can see it.

Athletes should be paid work study $

I think all NCAA and NJCAA athletes should be paid for the time they spend on their sports at the same rate as any other student doing work study.

mikesk...



they dont need an suv , hookers, and strippers to survive.


and, again, they are not FORCED to do anything. are you also saying, then, that people are FORCED to kill someone and steal their wallet? Or FORCED to kill a shop keeper and take all the money from the register? if so, you are going pretty crazy and off the deep end there mikesk...


and lots of college students have multiple jobs and internships.


dont throw a pity party for the athletes.

No dexx

Your the one who is going off the deep end are you actually arguing that colledge athletes accepting money from boosters is the same as robbing someone. Because if you think so I will bring to light that taking money from boosters is not against the law it is against NCAA "rules" but not against any laws on any books anywhere.
Also you never addressed my main point which is why is it ok for the coaches AD's and everyone else to get paid large sums of money but wrong for the players to be paid?
Seriously you just sound bitter.

and you never answered me...

how someone who is poor gains anything from an suv and hookers? they need hookers to survive???


again, no on is FORCED to do anything. it is all about choices and they choose to take the money, take the easy and corrupt way.


and to be fair and answer your question, yes the coaches and athletic directors get money but the athletes DO get a full ride. it is not like,as you are making it out, they get nothing at all. most college kids would likely love to get the full ride athletes get. so, mike, you are dishonest in suggesting the athletes do not get anything from their colleges.


and you are the only one who sounds bitter with all of your "the system is broken, man" stuff.


dexx

Corrupt, how is it in anyway corrupt to accept money or gifts from someone who CHOOSES to give them to you? Where else in life is that the case? Oh I got you its wrong because the NCAA says so.
On the issue of SUV's and hookers, I never defended the players getting thoose things what I defended was them taking MONEY, because they like everyone else need MONEY to survive. But while we are on the point why do you have a problem with them accepting SUV's and hookers? if someone offers it to them why should they say no, would you have said no when you were in university? And why is it that the boosters never get punished for any of this?
Finally the current system in colledge athletics is broken and all you need to do is open the sports page and see all the so called "scandals" that have taken place this year alone. Nobody respects this current system, because everyone knows that everyone else is breaking the rules. Seriously even the NCAA itself knows this system is broken in that they only employ around 10 full time compliance officers to police over 100 D1 universities, even they know its a joke. So how big of a sucker does that make you?

Yes, It Would Be A PR Exercise

Giving Miami the SMU treatment would be more a PR exercise than honestly dealing with the reailty of big money NCAA athletics.

At least the Olympics put a stop to its "amatuer" charade a long time ago, while the NCAA stubbornly insists on maintaining the "amatuer" farce.

Of course, I think the NCAA ought to go up in flames as well. Not a realistic proposal. The way how I see it, they need to either stop pretending football and men's basketball are amateur sports, and compensate the athletes in the revenue generating sports, or take the necessary steps to make them real amateur sports. In order to do that, the NBA and NFL need to have the same kind of farm system MLB has for players who don't want to go to college.

one more fact

Yes dexx they do get a "free ride" but what you failed to mention is that those scholarships can be revoked if the athlete doesn't play well enough, so really they are not students they are athletes.
Also any degree that any of these athletes get is worth nothing compared to all the money that they help to bring in, which also helps to pay for the Head Coachs as well as the AD's seven figure salary. Clearly it is nothing close to a fair trade off.

that because they get degrees in...

easy stuff to make the gpa cut. if most of the athletes applied themselves, they could get stronger degrees.


also, how often does a player have his scholarship revoked? seriously? how often does that happen? a lot of things like that 'can' happen but it doesnt mean they ever 'will' happen.


and most importantly just because people, these players, are offered something, it doesnt mean that they have to take it. again, they make a choice and they make one that lessens them as men, as people.

WHAM

"Its because as teenagers, they are mentored by parasites like Nevin Shapiro who show them that women are the exchange value for their lucrative labor."

Talk to athletes about their "Campus visits" and who is often with the assistant coach at the airport....David you are like an evening breeze

dexx seriously

What is wrong with them taking free stuff, seriously what is wrong with them accepting gifts from people and how in anyway does that diminish them as people? Are you telling me you've never accepted free stuff from people. The only thing that is wrong with it is that NCAA says its wrong, I guess they are the only ones allowed to make money in this process. I also wonder if they have a problem with Coaches and AD's doing the same things?
Also are you serious in that you think that any degree is going to make anywhere near as much money as an AD or a Head Coach, if you really think so you are living in a dream world, or is worth a fraction of what these players generate for the university?
Finally the reason why many of them get easier degrees is because they are steered into those programs by coaches because in the end all that matters is them playing, thats it they are not brought to school to learn, they are there to win games and make money for the school and that is the problem with this whole system. The fact that you don't seem to grasp that shows a huge ignorance on your part, colledge sports is a BUISNESS plain and simple.

Hater

That dude Dex was probably never popular and hated watching these athletes get attention while he didn't. He prob got his girl stolen by one lol. He is bitter, it's easy to see because he makes no sense. Stop responding to that clown. Let him be miserable instead of content with his own life.

It's hard out there for a student-pimp

What kind of prostitutes did the University of Miami provide to these fine young student-athletes?

Were the whores unionized?

Comrade Zirin, get on the case!





Eligibility

Require schools have consistent admission standards of their own choosing. Organize new conferences around these standards. If you want to be known as a football u, so be it, but end the hypocrisy of allowing those who are unprepared for university life to be exploited by the so-called academic elite. The University of Miami has made great strides in its academic reputation. Try reconciling that with the image of many of its teams. It is unfair to both students and athlete.

mike, if it is a business...

(you spelled business wrong, by the way)


in business the ceos and presidents (in this case the coaches and ads) make more money than the workers (players).


that is how business works and, if as you say, it is a business why do you complain about it? again, that is how business works.


if the players dont like it, they can start their own business.


stop with the pity party for the players.


dexx do you realize

That by admitting it is a business you are proving my point about why players should be paid and why they should recieve some sort of REAL compensation for their work.
The whole reason the NCAA claims that the players can't be paid is because they are amateur athletes, well now that you admit the whole operation is a business whats wrong with those performing the actual labor getting paid? Just like in all other areas of the business world.

i said 'if'...

and if you think it is a business, who are you against the ceo( coaches) getting paid more than worker (players)?


do you also think that about business in general, that a worked should be paid more than ceo??

No dexx

I am not against the coaches and AD's getting paid, what I am against is that they get paid huge sums while those who produce the revenue get nothing, do you understand? The problem is the players get paid NOTHING for what they do.

a full ride


isnt NOTHING...

and, actually, the coaches produce the revenue; kids go to duke to play for coack k and alabama to play for nick saban.


without those coaches, they wouldnt get the good recruits and therefore there would be no revenue, next to no revenue. so it all starts with the coaches.

people don't

go to the games to watch the coaches play.

By the way, dexx...

...you spelled worker wrong.

The players deserve real compensation. They are very young for such professional-level responsibilities. They deserve more than risky sex, drugs, and cars...if maturity and responsibility aren't cultivated (with help from adults) in these young men, their degrees and college experience will be diminished.

Other minor-age entertainers can make big money, why not the athletes? Change will have to come from the institutions who are making the big bucks. I just don't see that happening.

the other "minor-age" (odd terminology)...



entertainers have gone professional. justin bieber, whom i sure you like, is a professional while the athletes are amateurs and as such have to adhere to amateur rules.


and, mike, if what you say is true then why do the schools with great coaches get the excellent recruiting classes year after year? why dont those guys go D3 instead?

Money is Honey--Part Deux

In principal I'm not against paying college athletes for playing their sport. It sounds fair but I don't think it will not stoop boosters like Shapriro but the fairness angle appeals to me. But should we stop at just paying college athletes? Over the last few days I've been watching glimpses of the LLWS on ESPN. I was told that one of the games drew over 40,000. Money is being generated by attendance and ESPN. Should these 10 year olds be getting paid like their 18 year old brethren in the interest of fairness? And if not why not? Just asking.

Tuition at Comrade Zirin's private school for proleteriats

If you think tuition at U of Miami is high, check out the tuition at wealthy Comrade Zirin's private college alma mater Macalester College:

http://www.macalester.edu/admissions/financialaid/tuition/

Tuition $41,800
Room: $5,024
Dining: $4,372
Activity Fee: $221
Total: $51,417


tornado....



love your posts, keep up the good work

Don't feed the trolls

Please let's not let these fools ruin decent conversation. If you ignore them, they'll go away. They feed on attention.

One word for you Dave:

Amen!

Pay em'!!

The NCAA has been pimping kids out for decades, making billions, yet kids get no money and only gets rides 1 year at a time. It costs a university almost zero to have a kid on scholarship yet they lose a year of eligibility if they transfer. The universities sell their jerseys, use their likenesses and profit immensely, yet their product is flesh and blood that gets nothing.

Pay them!!!

to be fair...

as much as I enjoy sports, i think people like fire fighters and world wars 2 vets should be paid as much, if not more, than athletes considering all they have done for society.

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Dave Zirin is the author of the book: "Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports" (Haymarket). You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by going to dave@edgeofsports.com.
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