Ethics in college football recruiting
The case of Cam Newton at Auburn has some in the media all stirred up. There is an allegation that cash was demanded in order to get him to sign with a specific college. The story is that the cash was not forthcoming (or not enough of it) and he signed with another college. The investigation is ongoing and the whole thing may amount to nothing. Or it could be as big as what happened to USC. They had a national championship stripped from them and Reggie Bush had to return his Heisman trophy.
Why are colleges willing to violate the rules if they can get a top quality player? It is all about winning. Winning programs get more exposure and more prestige and generate more money—not just from television but from ticket sales and sales of team paraphernalia. Winning results in lots and lots of money. Winning also assures the national exposure that makes recruiting easier.
Many years ago, SMU was so outrageous about rules violations that the NCAA used every punishment at their disposal. The violations continued and SMU was given what is called the death penalty: their intercollegiate football program was shut down. It worked. Other colleges have had to handle various levels of punishment: limits on the number of scholarships and a ban on television appearances are the most common and the most effective.
Brian Bosworth was once asked about illegal practices at Oklahoma. He said he would not say anything that directly accused his alma mater, but then said that as a scholarship student he lived in a luxury apartment, drove a new car, and always had plenty of cash. Are the same sort of practices going on today? Of course not. The fact that over half the football players at Oklahoma come from Texas is just a measure of the deep-rooted affection Texas high school students have for—Oklahoma. And the outstanding players at Boise State of course chose Idaho over California and Florida because they love the weather there.