SMU Scandal: Trying Too Hard to Be No. 1

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While the rest of the college football world fuss’s over such little matters as a playoff system, drug test etc, people here are preoccupied with an overwhelming situation, capital punishment.

Southern Methodist University football scandal was an incident in which the football program at SMU was investigated and punished for violating NCAA rules and regulations. This was the most serious scandal among a Division I program in the NCAA. The mixture of coaches and boosters set up a slush fund used for “under the table” payments to players from the mid-1970s-1986. This ended in the NCAA handing down the athletic version of the death penalty, a two-year suspension from football competition. They canceled SMU’s entire 1987 schedule. SMU was allowed to return for a shortened 1988 season but chose to sit the season out because they believed that it would be difficult to field a viable team.

The brutality of the penalty left the SMU football program in devastation. The Mustangs had only one winning season over the next 20 years and failed to make another bowl game until 2009. To date, it is one of the most severe penalties ever enforced on a Division I program, and the only time the NCAA has canceled a football-playing school’s entire season at any level.

My thoughts: I believe that this was a huge crisis for not only SMU but for the NCAA and Division I programs all over the country. Coaches or boosters should never give certain athletes “under the table” money. No matter how much they may or may not deserve it. Although SMU did break the rules and cheated, I feel it was unfair that the NCAA gave them the death penalty. My personal opinion on why they gave them such a harsh penalty is not because they cheated but to make an example out of them so other universities do not do the same.


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