Update: Danny Sheridan did not reveal the name of the alleged “bag man” in the Cam Newton case as he claimed he would. He did say that the NCAA was aware of his identity and that he wasn’t talking out of fear of legal repercussions. My guess is Sheridan does in fact know. As Darren Rovell tweeted today, Sheridan’s reputation took a big hit today. I doubt he was willing to put his 25 year career on the line for a bluff on a syndicated radio show. Given what MT has already reported (other investigations) Sheridan quite possibly has been asked to keep his mouth shut.
By now, you’ve probably heard about Yahoo! Sports devastating report regarding illicit activities and the University of Miami football and basketball programs. Charles Robinson (who happens to be the best sportswriter in the biz) documented activities involving at least 72 current and former Hurricane athletes while at least seven coaches looked the other way. The Hurricanes would be facing major NCAA sanctions, possibly even the death penalty, if the NCAA were going to survive.
Matt Hayes of the Sporting News beat me to the punch with his column last night detailing how the Hurricanes scandal will sound the death knell for the NCAA. Hayes’ reasoning echoes what MT posted here on Monday. That process will speed up even further today when Las Vegas oddsmaker and USA Today columnist Danny Sheridan exposes the “bag man” in the Cam Newton situation at Auburn.
The current NCAA model of “amateurism” is simply unsustainable in an environment that produces billions of dollars in revenue. It’s been happening for a long time, and while the NCAA has responded with a rules manual that dwarfs the IRS tax code in both size and confusion, the violations keep getting bigger and bigger. That’s what happens when there’s an enterprise that rakes in cash and the powers that be hoard the wealth.
If the BCS schools have been good at one thing, its finding new and innovative ways to keep from sharing their money. While there have been lawsuits and threats of congressional intervention, men like Mike Slive and Jim Delany have changed the rules of the game just enough to stay one step ahead of their critics while maintaining an almost exclusive access to the revenue. With the stories of corruption threatening their “brand,” the BCS bosses are about to make another move: paying their players.
This has been “hinted” (read: trial balloons have been floated) at by several influential BCS figures including Ohio State AD Gene Smith, Delany and Slive. The NCAA, however, has remained resolute in opposing any form of “pay for play.” The NCAA maintains, and they’re right, that any form of stipend or reimbursement for athletes would bankrupt smaller programs. That’s why the BCS schools will break away from the NCAA and form their own semi-professional association, and very soon. Taking the illicit money from under the table and putting it on the table is the only way the BCS schools can hope to stem the tide of corruption and get eliminate the influence of people like Nevin Shapiro. New rules won’t do it, and stiffer penalties won’t do it. The revenue being produced right now is so great that the reward will always outweigh the cost of violating the rules.
Within two years, I see four, possibly five “super conferences” formed around corporate media alliances. They’ll maintain “traditional” names like the “Big (whatever)” but the parent companies will be ESPN, FOX, Comcast/NBC, CBS, and the like.
For better or worse, we’re witnessing the end of college sports as we have known it. It’s simply grown into a monster that can no longer be controlled.