The summer of 2010 has been filled with action-packed baseball, thrilling pre-season football and a drama-filled basketball free agency. There are very few things that could spoil the excitement that has filled the hot and humid air of the sports world, but college football may have pulled it off.
Like chicken pox, the virus known as illegal recruitment has spread throughout the college world, and does not seem to be getting any better. It all started back in 2006, when there was suspicion that former USC athlete Reggie Bush received money from marketing agents while attending the university and playing football. The investigation seemed to die down, but then it started back up in 2008. Bush vowed that he did not receive any illegal gifts, but the NCAA still had their doubts. After a two-year investigation, the NCAA found evidence of illegal recruitment and began their tirade on the college football world.
Due to the violation of NCAA rules, USC was placed under two-year, post season probation, which will not allow them to compete in any post-season bowl games until 2012. USC also had to vacate any wins that occurred after December 2004 and before December 2005. The NCAA then added gasoline to fire by removing 30 scholarships that USC was intending to use to recruit and rebuild their team. After the dust settled, USC decided to remove a statue of Reggie Bush, along with the Heisman Trophy he won in 2005. Sadly, this was only the beginning.
The University to Florida seemed to be next on the radar as they would soon suffer the same fate as USC did. The NCAA began investigating allegations that former Gators center Maurkice Pouncey received $100,000 from a representative of a sports agent between the SEC Championship game against Alabama and the Sugar Bowl matchup against Cincinnati. Maurkice has gone on to comment, saying that the allegations were “absolutely ridiculous”, but the NCAA has decided to continue the investigation any way. Florida also suffered four minor recruitment violations due to postings an assistant coach put on a recruits’ facebooks. Recruiters are allowed to directly message a recruit via facebook, but anything written on an open forum (wall, fan page), is against the rules. For every one of those minor offenses, Florida was prohibited from written recruit communication for a two-week period.
From there, the poison destroying college football spread like wildfire. Top programs such as Georgia, Alabama, Clemson, Southern Carolina and West Virginia have been getting pelted with violations involving illegal recruitment and other related issues. UNC now seems to be involved in the mayhem, as they are now being investigated for a relationship between UNC, UNC All-ACC tackle Marvin Austin and former UNC Tarheel and current Seattle Seahawk lineman Kentwan Balmer. It is said that Balmer paid for Marvin Austin and other UNC athletes to attend the Proactive Sports Performance training facility during the summer of 2009.
Both Florida coach Urban Meyer and Alabama Coach Nick Saban have decided to close their practices to the public and the media, which also includes scouts and agents. Saban also commented by saying that the NFL should also take action in regulating player involvement with scouts and agents. The NFL has yet to comment on the issue, but don’t expect not to hear from them in the future.
The pre-season polls are out and both Alabama and Florida are seeded within the top ten. Hopefully the investigation comes to a close soon, so we can enjoy the spine-tingling excitement of college football!