Kapusta argues that the power and influence of collegiate sports coaches’ are out of control and need to be regulated.
This past year was one of the most shameful in NCAA’s history. It was a year with repeated recruiting violations, scandalous lies and sexual abuse allegations. It led me to think, would a power shift have prevented all of this?
With the current big money, big business and 24 hour media coverage, college football and basketball coaches gain instant notoriety and celebrity, after any success at their Division 1 School. As the admiration for a coach grows, so does the evidence of power over more than just the athletic programs.
At Ohio State University, five students were found guilty of NCAA violations for selling memorabilia and awards for improper benefits. Head football coach, Jim Tressel was fined and suspended for keeping the violations private.
Amid the suspension, OSU’s president, Gordon Gee told reporters that he had not considered dismissing Tressel.
“No, are you kidding?” Gee said at a news conference. “Let me be very clear. I’m just hoping the coach doesn’t dismiss me.” Ultimately, the scandal forced OSU’s hand and instead of being publicly fired, Tressel resigned after 10 seasons.
At the University of Connecticut, basketball coach Jim Calhoun was penalized for recruiting violations last February and was suspended during his team’s first three Big East Conference games.
In addition, victories have been vacated from UConn and scholarships have been reduced. However, Calhoun never seemed to be in danger of losing his job, after he won a third national championship last April.
The biggest scandal of the year was Penn State’s sexual abuse allegations against former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky. The deplorable allegations raised questions about what head coach Joe Paterno knew, did not know and whether or not he did enough. Penn State’s Board of Trustees decided that Paterno should not survive the scandal and fired him.
The late, iconic coach of Penn State ran the program for 46 years and in 2004 was urged by top administrators to retire, but he refused. This left the Board champing at the bit to fire him and the scandal was the easiest, maybe the only way to do so.
Would the circumstances surrounding these coaches have been any different had they not been successful? Absolutely.
To be fair, success is not handed to anyone and I’m sure these coaches worked very hard to obtain their stature. However, is that a cue for university officials to unwilling hand over control of decisions that have nothing to do with athletics? Or for coaches to receive lifetime contracts so that alumni can remain happy?
These coaches have this power because of the revenue streams they bring in. Many collegiate athletic programs are now, in a sense, only for-profit programs. Sports are no longer about entertainment, but rather making dollars.
Furthermore, no matter how successful, I have a hard time buying into the fact that these coaches are worth the paychecks they collect; upwards of a million dollars a year. University presidents, who are supposed to be in charge of all aspects of the university, make nowhere near that amount.
It’s unfortunate that academics, at many of these universities, has taken a backseat to the football and basketball programs. The only person who can combat this problem is NCAA President Mark Emmert. Emmert needs to put a rule in place that every college coach, nationwide, will only have power over the program in which they run.
That would be the perfect solution, but considering the stronghold some coaches have on their respected universities it could be very difficult. These universities have paid and treated their coaches like celebrities, now they must limit their power to limit their influence.
Michelle Kapusta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.