by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
George Leef’s latest Martin Center column focuses on college football.
Remember the huge University of North Carolina athletics scandal, whereby the university’s athletics department managed to arrange for star football and basketball players to get preferential treatment to such an extent that many graduated with college educations in name only? That scandal began to break in 2010 and hit with full force for the next several years.
The scandal cost UNC about $18 million, including hefty bills for outside legal work and a public relations firm, as we read in this News & Observer story from last March.
Even though UNC managed to escape without any accreditation sanctions or punishment from the NCAA, you might think that such a scandal would cause other universities that are football and basketball heavyweights to play it straight, which is to say, to avoid every possible appearance of rigging the system so that big-time athletes can remain eligible to play even if they learn very little.
But if you think so, you don’t know how powerful the “win no matter what” mentality is. Just a few hundred miles from Chapel Hill is another university that lets the athletics department have its way—Auburn.
Competing in the storied Southeastern Conference, Auburn University (located in Auburn, Alabama) has many great wins to its credit on the gridiron and, to a lesser extent, the basketball court. The rivalry with the University of Alabama is as intense as any in college sports. Winning is an obsession and a Chronicle of Higher Education article from February by Jack Stripling shows how it dominates the administration.