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Money talks in college football

With the announcement that Maryland and Rutgers will be joining the Big Ten, we have yet another example of how tradition and the needs of student athletes no longer matter at all in big time college sports. It’s all about money. In this case, it was all about the Big Ten Network and gaining exposure to large TV markets on the East Coast.

On one level the entire situation is pathetic. Does a weakened Big Ten football conference really need to add a weak Maryland program or a Rutgers program that will struggle to stay competitive in the Big Ten? Adding Nebraska made sense from a football standpoint. But this is all about money and markets. I guess once we all acknowledge that it’s a little easier to accept. There’s an arms race going on and the Big Ten sees these dollars as adding to their muscle for the long term.

Meanwhile we have more stories of academic fraud at North Carolina. Read this article and it will make you sick, especially when you consider that UNC hoops is the darling of the NCAA and the national media. Will the NCAA be just as hard on this basketball program? Will it dare vacate a National Championship for the NCAA Tournament that the NCAA controls? How much has money corrupted the holier-than-thou NCAA? With a whistle blower coming forward at North Carolina the NCAA may be forced to address one of its sacred cows.

If Ohio State, Penn State and USC can get crushed by the NCAA for football violations, then North Carolina should get punished for basketball violations and academic fraud.

But frankly the whole system of punishment sucks. Ohio State had a minor scandal over players getting tattoos, and now they might be shut out of a national championship game against Notre Dame. Maybe the NCAA doesn’t care as the BCS controls football championships, but a matchup between Ohio State and Notre Dame in the National Championship could have been the most watched college football game ever give the huge followings from both schools.

Meanwhile, the NCAA is strong-arming former Miami football players in their investigation of a rogue booster there. What’s worse – some Miami kids getting free steaks and yacht trips or “student-athletes” at North Carolina taking no-show classes where a student adviser wrote their papers?

Finally, ESPN has won the rights to televise the new college football playoff for 12 years for a reported fee of $470 million per year. Does anyone expect things to get better? At least the BCS will get better as we can have four teams fighting it out instead of only two. Hopefully it will expand to eight teams at some point. But the dollars keep getting bigger for what’s supposed to be amateur sports.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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Will $2,000 make a difference?

Auburn University quarterback Clint Moseley (15) is sacked Louisiana State University saftey Derrick Bryant (36) by during their NCAA football game in Baton Rouge, Louisiana October 22, 2011. REUTERS/Sean Gardner (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

The NCAA is weighing a $2,000 increase in the amount universities can give to college athletes for their scholarships. The idea is to help cover the “full cost” of attending college.

Will this solve all the problems? Of course not. The NCAA brain trust needs to rethink all of their idiotic rules, and they also need to consider letting these athletes earn money from their celebrity status. Maybe we need to redefine what it means to be an amateur athlete in the 21st century.

That said, this should help a little. Giving these kids some spending money should lessen the incentive to accept benefits from boosters.

Rueben Randle helps LSU torch Auburn

Louisiana State University wide receiver Rueben Randle (2) runs into the end zone while scoring on a touchdown pass against Auburn University during their NCAA football game in Baton Rouge, Louisiana October 22, 2011. REUTERS/Sean Gardner (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Watch Rueben run. That’s basically what the Auburn defense did best today, as Rueben Randle caught 5 passes for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns in top-ranked LSU’s 45-10 thrashing of Auburn. Randle caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from Jarrett Lee and a 42-yard scoring pass from Jordan Jefferson.

LSU has had mini-scandals all season with players getting suspended for games, but the Tigers keep brushing off these distractions. For this game against Auburn, LSU was without stud corner Tyrann Mathieu, leading rusher Spencer Ware and defensive back Tharold Simon. The defense didn’t miss a beat as they held Auburn to only ten points.

Now LSU gets a bye week next week and then they’ll face Alabama for one of the biggest games of the year on November 5th.

Sugar Bowl violates tax laws

Ohio State University players celebrate after their team defeated the University of Arkansas during the NCAA BCS Allstate Sugar Bowl football game in New Orleans, Louisiana January, 4, 2011. REUTERS/Sean Gardner (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)

The mess in college football keeps piling up. Real Sports on HBO has a new expose on how the “nonprofit” college bowls spend money like drunken sailors entertaining conference and school officials. We’ll have more on that later.

In the meantime, one of the disclosures from Real Sports involved improper expenditures by the Sugar Bowl for campaign purposes, something that violates tax laws given their nonprofit status.

An HBO “Real Sports” investigation has prompted the Allstate Sugar Bowl to self-report tax law violations it committed by purchasing three $1,000 tickets to fundraisers for then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco in 2004 and 2006.

Under its non-profit charter, the bowl is not allowed to contribute to political campaigns, and such actions also are against bowl policy, according to a release from the bowl.

At the time of the fundraisers, the Sugar Bowl was receiving approximately $1 million annually from the state as a “cooperative endeavor” that helped fund team payouts. The arrangement, which predated Blanco’s term, was rescinded two years ago at the Sugar Bowl’s request.

The release also stated that the money has been refunded from Blanco and those funds have been donated to the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete fund.

Chief Executive Officer Paul Hoolahan and current bowl president Lance Alfrick declined to elaborate beyond the release, but immediate past president Dave Melius called the violation “an accident.”

“Obviously, nobody had any idea,” Melius said. “You have to understand we have an organization with about a $14 million budget, and we’re spending $14 million a year in about a zillion different ways on a lot of things we’re supporting. There are thousands of checks written, and one check goes out that didn’t go through the correct process.”

This is the same Sugar Bowl that lobbied to have 5 suspended Ohio State players be permitted to play in the 2011 Sugar Bowl.

It’s becoming clear that the “nonprofit” status of these bowls is a complete fraud. They don’t care about college kids – they simply care about money. It will be interesting to see where that $14 million is really going as we get more scrutiny of this corrupt bowl system.

More absurdity from the NCAA

The biggest problem facing the NCAA is the myth of amateurism in college sports. With the Internet, 24-hour cable channels, and now social media, the activities of “student athletes” is now much more open to scrutiny.

In their losing battle to monitor and control these college kids, the NCAA is chasing down some ridiculous “problems.” Check out their recent allegations against North Carolina:

Last week the NCAA found that from February through June 2010, the university “did not adequately and consistently monitor social networking activity that visibly illustrated potential amateurism violations within the football program, which delayed the institution’s discovery and compounded the provision of impermissible benefits.”

The statement included an NCCA request for “copies of materials posted on Twitter by football student-athletes. … Furthermore, the NCAA is requesting information regarding the institution’s efforts to monitor the social networking activity of football student-athletes.”

So the NCAA is now seeking to become a social networking assassin of its own. Or should I say it is just playing another variation of its familiar role of assassin, as the NCAA is often in the business of search and destroy, usually of its own making.

Following the Ohio State tattoo fiasco and the emerging story of Alabama players potentially getting suits, the NCAA is setting itself up for repeated failure by expecting their athletes to avoid all temptation. They need to loosen the rules, and they need to consider letting athletes earn money on outside activities.

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