No Sympathy for USC; It's Time to Pay Up

How long are Times sportswriters going to "Fight On" against the NCAA's television ban of USC football? Unable to argue credibly that the Trojans and their fellow felons (alas, my own team, Illinois, among them) haven't earned the penalty, they resort to championing the "innocent" victims: the fans (shades of Peter Ueberroth!), the networks and the current players who weren't involved in the infraction.

That's a bit disingenuous. Fans of probationary teams got some of the benefit of the cheating--it helped them swagger and shout "We're No. 1"--so it's only fair they pay part of the price. The networks and their money help fuel the problem and will somehow survive without the few banned teams. And the current players are hard to sympathize with when USC quarterback Sean Salisbury defends illegal Trojan ticket scalping because scholarships just don't pay well enough--besides a free education, poor Sean was handed a mere $410 a month last year.

Even if all these innocents are really that, there still can be justice for all. If teams on probation want to play on TV, go ahead and let them . . . with two stipulations. One, divert the big network paycheck from the probationary team to the NCAA enforcement division; if "everybody else does it"--and many probably do--this will help catch them. Two, to reduce the prestige and recruiting advantage of TV appearances, make the teams on probation bear some sort of scarlet A. If they wouldn't clash with the officials, prison-striped uniforms might be appropriate.


San Gabriel

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