Friday, September 24, 2010

The Invisible Hand Should Guide Troubled Universities, Not the NCAA.

I was listening to Colin Cowherd this morning, who, I believe, was commenting on this article about the University of Florida's 'problem' with the number of football players who have been arrested over the past four years. According to the Orlando Sentinel, there have been 31 off-field arrests with 25 different players since summer 2005.

The article references Bryant Gumbel on HBO's Real Sports:
"driving drunk, robbing a convenience store, and hitting your girlfriend are all worse offenses than dealing with an agent..."
Bryant's got a point, but when it comes to the NCAA's responsibility - of which I have had my disputes - I don't think the disciplining of schools with law enforcement issues should be under the NCAA's umbrella.

It should be up to the school itself.
"At the end of the day, here's the question: How much crime will you tolerate from students who are on scholarship? If you have the privilege to come to this school for free when everybody else has to pay, how many of these guys is too many when it comes to crime? Is it one? Is it 10? Is it 20?"
- Jeff Benedict, an English professor at Southern Virginia University
I'm a free market kind of guy. Let these schools make their strategic decisions, and we'll see how it plays out.

Just like how some schools don't accept students with ACT scores lower than 24, and others who will accept anyone with a 16 and their check clears, I believe it's up to the school administration to determine the public relations balance they wish to have.

And that's why degrees from Columbia and Vanderbilt mean more than degrees from Arizona State or Western Kentucky? (Think about it. If you were hiring, Columbia or Arizona State? Thought so.)

That's the question that Universities need to find where they, as an institution need to find their footing. Is it okay to win with less-than-stellar people

Would a team/administration ever embrace an 'outlaw' persona? I say yes, as long as they are winning. It's happened before. Back in the late 90s and earlier this past decade, "Criminoles" was a pretty common term for Bobby Bowden's crew down in Tallahassee. Do you remember the "International Rules" for Sebastian Janikowski? That was also the same year Peter Warrick scored two touchdowns in the national title game (when previously in the season he has a little problem with Dillard's).

And remember, people didn't care back then. At least FSU fans didn't. It's fine to point fingers and call other programs dirty, but when it's your team (and you are winning) it's no problem.

That's where we sit with Florida. Florida's won two national titles since Urban Meyer's been the coach. As long as he's competing for and winning SEC and national titles, those in the Florida administration are going to let all the arrests slide.

But once (or if) the on-field results go sour, then it's a much quicker trigger.

However, I don't believe it's up to the NCAA to decide whether or not an institution should allow those who are outside the law to participate in collegiate athletics.

At some point, the colleges themselves have to decide their own standards, just like they do with ACT scores. If the player wants to break the law, then it's okay to play at Florida. And as long as Florida officials are okay with being identified as a 'troubled' university, then it's no problem.

Let the free market play out. Because one of these days, the 'troubled' programs won't be able to get everyone out of the clink in time for Saturday's kickoff. And when that school starts to lose because of this, they'll right themselves.

It's the free market, baby. Laissez Faire.