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Sunday, August 30, 2009
 
No Deterrence? NCAA Rules and the Men's Basketball and Football Players who Don't Follow them

San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Tim Sullivan has a piece on star NCAA athletes who accept gifts from would-be agents (e.g., Reggie Bush; O.J. Mayo) or who otherwise break other NCAA rules (e.g., Derrick Rose/SAT exam) and how, practically, little can be done to stop that from happening. He interviews me for the column, which is excerpted below..

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[Derrick] Rose has adopted the Reggie Bush defense, which is to take the money and run from accountability. Having made his fortune with the Chicago Bulls, Rose has A) declined to cooperate with NCAA investigators and B) failed to account for the discrepancies that caused his SAT test to be invalidated.

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This is the same evasive and suspicious strategy [Reggie] Bush employed — and continues to employ — when confronted with questions about his cash flow and his parents' living arrangements during his last year at USC.

“I would love to talk about it, but now is not the time,” Bush said on April 27, 2006, two days before the NFL Draft. “There's a time and a place for everything and this isn't one of them.”

Bush said that day he had done nothing wrong and promised to address the allegations, but 40 months later that time and place have yet to be identified. Though the inability to question Bush directly has frustrated the NCAA, more recent allegations involving one-and-done basketball star O.J. Mayo have broadened the scope of the investigation and increased the likelihood that the Trojans will ultimately be sanctioned for a “lack of institutional control.”

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Likewise, any penalties USC may receive as a result of Bush's and Mayo's alleged improprieties will be administered long after they have left campus. Unless the Internal Revenue Service decides to start auditing the tax returns of professional athletes in search of undeclared undergraduate income, there's every reason to believe that crime does pay on campus.

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Michael McCann, an associate professor at Vermont Law School, says the age limits enacted by the NBA and the NFL “create incentives” for short-term students without providing an adequate disincentive to rules-breaking.

“By the time allegations come to the surface,” McCann says, “the player will have already left and there's no way of holding him accountable.”

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“If the allegations against him are true, I think O.J. Mayo took the money because maybe he thought he should have been in the NBA,” McCann says. “Had he pursued any profession other than basketball or football, he would have been able to be a professional.”

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To read the rest, click here. For a related post, see Alan Milstein's "Reggie Bush Sweepstakes" in which Alan argued that the NFL's college draft is a monopsony (the NFL controls the buying of talent not the selling: they are the only source to which eligible players may sell their services).





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