In the wake of the recent scandal involving Jim Tressel and the Ohio State University, there has been a lot of discussion regarding how to manage the ongoing problem of student athletes receiving extra benefits that are deemed NCAA violations. Former Mississippi State AD Greg Byrne raised a few eyebrows when he unveiled a bold new approach to combat such practices at Arizona. A couple of weeks ago he sent out the following message to Arizona faculty, students, and fans:
"I am sure that many of you have been following the recent developments at Ohio State with its football program. My purpose here is not to judge or be critical of one of our peer institutions.However, the situation does give us another opportunity to proactively communicate with our fan base and internally on the absolute need to pay attention to the rules every day. We are one bad decision away by a coach, employee, student-athlete and/or community member/fan from facing significant challenges that can damage our university and athletic program for many years to come. If you ever know of a situation where a student-athlete is receiving an extra benefit (something that the rest of the student body would not receive), please contact me or our compliance department."
That, friends, is a really bold step in doing what is necessary to keep your university in line. Honestly, I'd be scared to death if someone suggested the same thing for MSU. In my heart I want to believe that Mississippi State is following the rules, and the Cam Newton scandal seems to back up that belief since Cecil left Starkville with empty pockets. However, if you did a poll with most college football fans, I believe you'd find most people firmly believe that almost every school does it. And by 'it' I'm obviously referring to "pay for play".
So far no instances have been reported in Arizona, but it'll be interesting to wait and see if anything ever comes from Byrne's idea. On one hand, I'd like to say its a commendable action...on the other hand I can't help but wonder if Byrne fully grasps the potential consequences of the idea. No one wants the NCAA going through your dirty laundry but that's exactly what is going to happen if and when Byrne begins to receive the notifications he's asking for. Who is to say that a nut-job fan from another school can't fabricate a story and send it to Byrne? Each and every accusation that is sent to him will have to be investigated, and if they aren't all followed up on the university will be taking a tremendous risk. Byrne at least seems to understand what he's asking:
"There's been a lot of support saying it's a great idea. There's been a lot of people saying it'll open up the floodgates. Anything that comes in, you're going to investigate,but there still has to be proof."
Again, no instances have been reported in Arizona...yet.
So my question to you, Bulldog fan, is this: