There have recently been reports of both Auburn University and the University of Oregon having major violations with their football teams. This allows us to revisit the punishment of vacated wins and scholarships being lost for sports programs, due to that being the most likely disciplinary action that will be taken with these schools. Both vacated wins and loss of scholarships are the most ridiculous punishments possible. Vacating wins doesn’t do anything, but put an asterisk next to a season in the record books. Let’s take the 2005 National Championship Game for example. USC beat the crap out of Oklahoma 55-19. Now, technically no one won that game. The problem is we all remember that game. To say no one won that game is crazy. Vacated wins does nothing except take a trophy out of a case. All the players, coaches, fans and media know who won.
As for loss of scholarship, all this does is hurt a bunch of kids who had nothing to do with any of the violations. It also creates a trickle down effect that affects a few kids at the bottom of the scholarship offers pool, not the kids that have the talent to play at a Oregon or Auburn. It affects kids who probably wouldn’t even have a chance to play at the large school receiving sanctions. Let’s take a look at that USC example again.
USC lost ten scholarships per year for three years for the violations of the 2004-2005 season. That is ten kids that could have played at the top program in the country. Now, they have to go to elsewhere. That takes ten spots from ten other schools at the same level or just a step down from USC, for example: Texas, Oklahoma, Florida State and others.
Those ten spots continue to trickle down and take roster spots for kids who would have ended up at schools like Memphis, UAB, and Central Michigan. This effect will work its way down to the Montanas and Portland States of the world. Moving through all teams, regardless of division, that can offer a full football scholarship.
There is a finite amount of scholarships that can be offered throughout college football. There are under 7,000 scholarships to the 225 FBS and FCS schools and there are over one million high school football players trying to earn that potential financial aid for education. You take ten scholarships away you aren’t taking them from the Andrew Luck and RGIII’s of the world, players of that caliber will receive a scholarship no matter what. This type of punishment is taking a scholarship from the kid who starred at a 2A high school and was going to go to Portland State. His spot was filled by the falling talent that got bumped off the better team and fell to the next best team.
The NCAA says they are punishing the school, but realistically they are punishing future kids. Even with the bowl bans, they are just taking away opportunity for kids that had nothing to do with the violations. If a kid cheated on a test in his first period class, you wouldn’t take it out on the second period class. You need to punish the one responsible. Make players pay back scholarships. Fine coaches, even if they have already left the school. Make the school pay back money. The schools and coaches are the ones who made the millions off the success of the team, not the student-athletes.
The easiest way to deal with these situations is to fine the school large amounts. Let them play in bowls still, but don’t let them collect the bowl money. Take their cut and spread it out to other schools in their conference or across the country. This doesn’t take away kids’ educations and opportunity to have the same fortunes as other football players. The fine will also take away the pointless vacating wins thing (which by the way, they should vacate losses too). It will also be determined by how much the school benefited financially off those wins. Money is the main reason these violations happen. Attacking the deep pockets of these programs would definitely get the attention of those in charge.
Start taking away the money and change will happen.