Death Penalty for Oklahoma Basketball?

Jeff Capel NCAA violations

Recently, it became known that the NCAA was investigating the Oklahoma men’s basketball program over the involvement of two players and a cash payment from a financial advisor in Florida.

The players, Tiny Gallon and Willie Warren have both entered the 2010 draft, leaving the coaching staff waiting to see if the NCAA decides to hammer the program.

CBS writer Gregg Doyel sheds the harsh light of reality on the Oklahoma program, and it’s not pretty. The cold hard facts are that this is not the first violation for Oklahoma. The current coaching staff took over from Kelvin Sampson’s tenure already saddled with heavy sanctions:

“Former Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson makes a mockery of NCAA rules by teaming with his coaching staff to make almost 600 illegal recruiting phone calls. The OU compliance department lets it happen. Doesn’t have a clue what’s going on. ”

Doyel goes on to suggest that in cases like this, the NCAA by it’s own rules would be well within their expected options to place the ‘death penalty’ on Oklahoma basketball, which would mean no more basketball in Norman, at least for some time.

Doyel’s article raises an interesting point, which is that if Oklahoma basketball doesn’t deserve to get the death penalty, and, in a corollary example, USC also doesn’t, which program will?

It’s likely the NCAA has no intention of ever handing out the death penalty after placing the SMU football program under it in 1986, which decimated the program. The ‘death penalty’ option is now seen as a ‘nuclear option’, in that the SMU program, which was a college football juggernaut, did not return to a college bowl game in 2009.

However, it should be pointed out that SMU’s football program had no right to be allowed to compete by the NCAA rules, and since they were repeatedly caught breaking the rules, the idea that the NCAA somehow treated them unfairly is laughable.

They weren’t really a storied program, they were a program that cheated to win, many times, and they got caught.

USC’s football and basketball programs have already been caught multiple times, although not as many as SMU, but are more of an example of what the NCAA should be preventing, at least if they are going to continue to maintain that college athletes should not be paid.

The allegations against Oklahoma basketball are equally damning, but at this point, they are still just allegations. It remains to be seen how serious the NCAA is about keeping programs from breaking the rules. If the NCAA does not start really placing heavy disciplinary action on these types of violations, they are communicating to the rest of the programs that getting caught won’t be something to be afraid of.

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