The Death Penalty in College Football

Submitted by MGoCooper on August 17th, 2011 at 2:03 AM

Given what we've seen from OSU, and also with today's news about The "U", college football fans are faced with a major question; Should the death penalty ever be used in college football? Given the complete devastation that it caused for SMU, will it ever be used again?



August 17th, 2011 at 2:09 AM ^

The NCAA has said it would never be used again.  It would be too messy, especially for a team in a major conference.  It would not be in the NCAA's best financial interests to bar a major program like that.


August 17th, 2011 at 11:15 AM ^

The death penalty bylaw reads that it can only be imposed on a repeat violator if their probation came within the last five years of their current major violation. A separate bylaw interpretation says that the NCAA can reach back beyond their statute of limitations to investigate a pattern of closely related behavior. Shapiro's behavior is obviously a ridiculous, habitual pattern. According to the probe from Yahoo!, he started "boosting" in 2001. Miami was placed on 3-year probation in 1995 and got off in 1998. According to my lawyerly statute interpretation, if an NCAA investigation includes violations from 01, 02, or 03, that would be within the 5-year window the NCAA requires to levy the death penalty. It sounds like it will be up to them on whether to drop the hammer, errr, nuclear bomb.


August 17th, 2011 at 2:22 AM ^

I wouldn't say it's death penalty material.  SMU's scandal remains far and above the worst scandal in NCAAF history, where the team violated major rules, got caught, and then were found to be continuing to violate those rules.  Miami's scandal is major and will likely result in tough sanctions, but I can't see the NCAA banning them for a year (especially when it seems that the scandal has little/no connection to the current team).  Gotta feel for Al Golden, though.  Guy works his way through the ranks to get to a major football program and gets slammed like this before his first game

NMU Blue

August 17th, 2011 at 2:29 AM ^

I bet if you dig you'll find that there are more on the team.  I believe he was reportedly still giving gifts as late as in 2010.  I don't think they should get the death penalty, either, but a firm tap out submission would work just as well.  Let's be honest, the NCAA is about money.  They can't kill off one of their cash cows no matter how bad of a reputation they have.  OSU and Miami are going to get drilled, but not Chernobyl'd.


August 17th, 2011 at 7:22 AM ^

College Football is a "cash cow" for the NCAA, and it's consistently perpetuated, even by that main stream media. Just look at the NCAA's financial reports. Here's one from 2008 (first one that came up in google search, but you can dig into to find most recent.) Almost the entirety of the money the organization brings in is from the TV contract for March Madness. The balance is for miscellaneous stuff like the tournaments it runs.

Football money (TV contracts and Bowl payouts) goes to conferences and subsequently to teams. That's why Slive, Delany, and co. are so powerful. The short of it: while Miami not playing college football wouldn't be a great thing for college football, it would have almost zero impact on the money NCAA organization sees.


August 17th, 2011 at 7:39 AM ^

That is one of the main obstacles to the playoffs: the NCAA owns the legal rights to a football playoff, but not the bowls.

Bowls = more money for all schools and conferences

Playoffs = more money for NCAA


However, I think football is the life line of the NCAA.  If the NCAA hurt football, the schools of importance would simply leave the NCAA and form a more friendly operation.

Coastal Elite

August 17th, 2011 at 12:45 PM ^

"Things like this" seems pretty vague. Do you mean any sort of recruiting violations at all, no matter how many players are involved or how knowledgeable the coaching staff and the institution were or when the violations occurred?

Even though a neat little standard punishment would make us all feel better about the arbitrariness of the NCAA's enforcement mechanisms, I think this is an area where you need to allow for maximum nuance and flexibility.


August 17th, 2011 at 7:25 AM ^

They mentioned it would be extreme circumstances that it would be used.  I think that this stuff is only going to get worse.  They should use it.  Make an example of a school, prove a point and scare the rest of the nation straight for a while.  Doing it to a big program is the only way to do it too.  You can't give another SMU size school the death penalty.  Slap it on Ohio, Auburn or The U... now you're talking.

Mr Miggle

August 17th, 2011 at 7:35 AM ^

They have in fact mentioned that they might use the death penalty. Both in the Baylor MBB case and the last Alabama case they said they didn't use it because of actions taken by the school subsequent to their infractions. It's pretty clear they look for reasons not to use it

There have been people saying the NCAA will never use the death penalty again, but that's always been their speculation, not from the NCAA itself.


August 17th, 2011 at 10:34 AM ^

True, but the pattern (granted it was used once) was for the death penalty to apply to (1) repeat offenders and (2) multiple sports.  Clearly the multiple sports is met, if allegations are true (stemming from Frank Haith - basketball - and football).  The repeat offender status is a bit more dicey.  There is no indication that the U was previously on probation in recent memory.  In fact, Randy Shannon had cleaned up the program, or so it seemed.


August 17th, 2011 at 11:03 AM ^

1.  SMU was in a major conference.  It wasn't the SEC or the Big Ten by any means, but a conference with UT, Texas A&M, Arkansas, and TTech probably wouldn't be considered a CUSA type substance that it's in now.

2.  Miami and SMU have very similar cases.  SMU was paying players with coaches complicit in the dealings.  They were caught and didn't seriously institute reforms.  Miami did the same thing, and it happend through their probationary period.  The infractions are on the same massive scale that SMU was on.

In essence, this is like USC x 30 or 40.  USC was found guilty based on 1 player recieving massive improper benefits with a coach who know or should have known about it.  Miami will find the same thing, only with 20+ first round picks over 10+ years and 6+ coaches who were in on it.

Michigan Manders

August 17th, 2011 at 2:14 AM ^

SMU got it particularly bad. I could see Miami getting the death penalty, just not to the extent SMU did. For instance, banned from playing games for a season, some scholarship losses (not 55 like SMU's ban, though), and a 3+ year bowl ban with 5 years probation. However, allow the team to practice in pads during season (if the NCAA *can* allow that).

That's just an example, but basically something like that.

Michigan Manders

August 17th, 2011 at 2:33 AM ^

Kentucky's basketball program got hit with it in the 1950s, Southern Louisianna basketball got hit in the 1970s, and a few division two/three schools have gotten it for other sports as well.

Also, SMU got much more than just a ban from competing. They got a 55 scholarship reduction, an assistant coach reduction, a ban on recruiting for a season (this may be included in the actual death penalty law; I'll admit I haven't read it), probation, and a bowl/TV ban past the season bans. Plus they were banned for two seasons (although the second was only banned from home games), not just one.

I just want to make sure that when people are considering whether or not the NCAA wll issue the death penalty, they know it's only the ban on playing a season; we aren't necessarily talking SMU like sanctions yet. Close, obviously, but not quite.



August 17th, 2011 at 4:46 AM ^

death penalty-- Morehouse's men's soccer program and MacMurray's men's tennis program-- were not on probation and had no prior violations before the axe fell on them. The NCAA ruled that the violations and lack of institutional control in those cases were so egregious that competition bans were required. Now, it's very difficult to see the NCAA handing down a similar penalty to an FBS football program, particularly one as prominent as Miami, but the school's past history may come into play here. Miami drew some of the harshest penalties in NCAA history in 1995, after an investigation that revealed institutional wrongdoing on a level considerably worse than what's been alleged against the Hurricanes by Yahoo! Sports(IMO), and the NCAA can waive its statute of limitations if there is compelling evidence of severe violations, as there would seem to be here. Assuming that these allegations are proven, Miami's defense is going to be that this was a rogue booster acting with the assistance of a few coaches who aren't employed by the school any more. This case, on its own merits, would most closely resemble the Michigan basketball scandal(though there are obvious differences), when Ed Martin's need to launder gambling profits wound up helping to wreck Michigan basketball for over a decade. However, if the NCAA waives the statute of limitations, and takes the view that the Shapiro case represents a continuation or resumption of the sort of lack of institutional control the NCAA hung on Miami in 1995, then the most severe penalties could come into play. I doubt that happens-- if I had to guess, taking the allegations at face value, Miami's looking at a USC-type penalty here.


August 17th, 2011 at 7:27 AM ^

People at my work were talking one day about giving OSU a TV ban.  That's the punishment I don't ever see happening aggain.  That's punishing the other teams as well.  What I think is a good punishment is a money ban.  Team A can play on TV, but they get none of the profits from it.

Hit em where it really hurts.  The pocketbook.


August 17th, 2011 at 11:07 AM ^

I think a regional TV ban would work.  No broadcasting of games within the greater Columbus/Ohio area would be a real killer.

The option to really hurt the pocketbooks is to make them play an entire schedule on the road.  Flip all home games to road games for 2 years, and that's approaching $100 million while also putting them at a competitive disadvantage.


August 17th, 2011 at 2:15 AM ^

No way the NCAA hands out TV bans, millions will be lost. TV contracts is where all the revenue comes in, too much at stake to hand out bans now adays. The NCAA needs a system that punishes the people who commit the violations, not the new coaches/athletes. 


August 17th, 2011 at 2:26 AM ^

I was a HUGE fan of Sean Taylor, he was one of my favorite defenders in all of football. I spent the better part of 2004, praying that there would be some way he could have slipped to the Lions in the draft. It hurts a bit to see someone you respected so much be involved in something as blatantly wrong as this. It harms his legacy in my eyes, that may be a bit harsh, but it's the truth.;_ylt=AkBXKJV2f1pSKvqjUJxVlXdRMuB_?slug=ys-sean_taylor_allegations


August 17th, 2011 at 2:57 AM ^

To even halfway suggest that OSU should maybe receive the death penalty is farcial and also shamefully biased. Get a clue.


August 17th, 2011 at 3:49 AM ^

I truly disdain Ohio State, but to compare what happened at OSU to what has been reported in Miami is insane.

Miami's situation is bad and if the death penalty is ever coming out again it'll be now. I don't think we'll see if though. More like losing dozens of schollies over several years, a long bowl ban, and a really, really long probation...not to mention that the last decade will be wiped out of the history books (not that that really matters).


August 17th, 2011 at 6:08 AM ^

The NCAA has it wrong. The death penalty should be their starting point for major violations, from which teams can earn lesser penalties based on cooperation, honesty, etc. Teams would be much more willing to talk openly with the NCAA if the incentive was avoiding the death penalty. Think a plea deal rather than a trial. It usually works for Jack McCoy.


August 17th, 2011 at 6:33 AM ^

I dont know if the U will get the death penalty....but Im pretty sure we will see separate columns bemoaning the state of college athletics by Mitch Albom and the Albom Wannabe Rosenberg before the end of the week.


August 17th, 2011 at 7:13 AM ^

the only way the NCAA even thinks about the death penalty in this case against the "U" is if they can find something showing that the AD and or the school president knew this was going on the whole time. without that the NCAA cannot come down as hard as they should, because all miami has to do is say "those coaches aren't here and we'll kick the current players off the team and forfeit some games." or something along those lines.i'm pretty sure thats what what OSU did with the NCAA when they came up with their "self imposed" sanctions.

as for comparing this one to what SMU was doing is still not even close, yes there are similarites but thats it. the NCAA was able to prove that the SMU AD and school president both knew what was going on the first time around, and then was able to prove that they still knew what was going on after they were put on probation by the NCAA. SMU knowingly let the boosters do whatever they wanted. IIRC from the 30 for 30 when SMU got caught for the second time and they asked the boosters to stop paying the players, the boosters told them that ok thats fine, but you have to understand that YOU still have a pay roll to meet for the current players and SMU said ok...

now does the "U" deserve the death penalty, yes because its the only way other schools will learn. are they going to get it, probably not unless the NCAA or yahoo comes up with a smoking gun linking higher ups to all of this...


August 17th, 2011 at 7:00 AM ^

.....part of me says that Miami does not exactly get  sent  to the gallows, although they might be able to see them from where they end up. In any event, they couldn't find someone at Miami who knew that rather famous line spoken by Sidney Carton in "A Tale Of Two Cities", so any trip to the gallows wouldn't be terribly dramatic for them. 


August 17th, 2011 at 7:07 AM ^

As a graduate of both the University of Michigan and University of Miami, I am upset and offended by the callousness and ignorance of some comments on this board.
<br>You read a single article relaying the story of a convicted fraudster (or a snippet of snippet summarizing the article - I doubt many of you actually read the yahoo sports article) and you immediately call for the death penalty? My God. I hope none of you calling for the death penalty ever sit on a jury in an actual court of law!
<br>Please know that there are more Canes fans on our current Michigan football team and more Wolverines/Canes across the country than you may realize. For those of you older than 9 (given the immaturity of some comments I'm not sure there are many), remember that the two UMs are united by a common hatred for that school down (Chris Gamble Pass Interference). We should be pulling for the U, not calling for its head.
<br>And for those of you who still can't find it in your hearts, F you. It's a Canes thing. You wouldn't understand.
<br>Alex Arteaga-Gomez
<br>Michigan 2002
<br>Miami Law 2005

Mr Miggle

August 17th, 2011 at 8:15 AM ^

I read the Yahoo article. I also read the other posts in this thread. You decide to attack us for our immaturity in a thread where nobody thinks Miami is getting the death penalty and no one is necessarily in favor of it. Let me take a wild guess. You're so blinded by rage you can't see straight.

Why on earth you think fans of any other school should be rallying behind the Canes in the wake of this story is totally beyond me. Good luck finding them anywhere. Try the OSU boards. They're more sympathetic when it comes to sustained widespread cheating. Plus they should love you guys right now.

It was just one article with an account by a convicted fraudster. Doesn't sound too bad until until you read about the documentation and corroboration he has. If I were you I'd worry a lot more about your beloved U getting the death penalty than what we think. This is not going to end well for Miami.






August 17th, 2011 at 8:53 AM ^

"And for those of you who still can't find it in your hearts, F you. It's a Canes thing. You wouldn't understand." - agomezmia

Having a booster convicted of running a Ponzi scheme and handing out nine crap-tons of illegal benefits to players for YEARS is a Canes thing? You're right - I don't understand that sort of behavior at all. 


August 17th, 2011 at 9:19 AM ^

Between USC, OSU and the U, it seems like there's all kinds of things going on that Michigan fans just "wouldn't understand". But that's okay. Especially when it seems like "understanding" roughly translates to "yeah we cheated. He'll yeah we did. But I don't want to talk about it"


August 17th, 2011 at 11:06 AM ^

But you can't really be a fan of each of their football teams, other in the most shallow way, because they're on opposite ends of the spectrum. Maybe you have to be "old enough" to remember how corrupt that program was, and has been. It pretty much doesn't stand for anything Michigan stands for. Which you obviously don't understand.


August 17th, 2011 at 12:38 PM ^

I believe what we have here is an example of the old 'throw a bunch of shit at the jury and hope they buy at least one argument' defense gambit. We have...

1. The witness is unreliable.
2. There's been a rush to judgement.
3. My client is more like you than you might believe. Also, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
4. You simply don't understand my client's experience.