Mark Emmert on the College Football Offseason: ” It’s been a really, really unpleasant offseason”

August 18, 2011 – 11:15 am by Chris Fedor

College football and the sports world were both rocked by the allegations that came out Tuesday night about the Miami Hurricanes. It was reported that there were eight years worth of impropriety at “The U” involving 72 former players, a number of coaches, and what seems like millions of dollars in gifts. It looks like scandals like this and rules violations are starting to run rampant in college sports and it will be up NCAA President Mark Emmert to try and come up with penalties and a system that will prevent this from continuing as often as it is right now.

Mark Emmert joined 790 The Zone in Atlanta with Mayhem in the AM to talk about how concerned he is with the allegations against the University of Miami, whether or not he takes these allegations more seriously because of Yahoo’s reputation, whether or not the death penalty has been brought up as an acceptable punishment for these kinds of issues, if he feels like the NCAA needs to make an example of Miami, whether or not he thinks there is too much money in college sports, and how tough the past year has been with a number of cases of rules violations.

How concerned he is about the allegations against the University of Miami:

“I’m deeply concerned about it. You can’t look at those kinds of allegations, we have to remember of course right now they are allegations, but if those allegations prove to be true, even substantially, it’s a mess.”

Whether or not he takes the allegations more seriously because of Yahoo’s reputation:

“This is an ongoing investigation and unfortunately I can’t comment on it beyond what I have already said. We’ll just have to let that process move forward. We hear from the media just like you in the stories that are out there. We have to go out and confirm or deny any of those stories based on the data we accumulate and we are in the midst of doing that. I can’t really comment on the quality of the source or what the information is at this stage.”

If he has been asked about the death penalty being used as a punishment:

“No I wasn’t asked directly about it. The need right now is for us to have, it’s something that we were just talking about last week with our President’s retreat, we need to have a series of changes made in every way we run the enforcements practice and the nature of the rules. We need to focus the rules on the things that count, not on the things that are extraneous. We need to make sure that our enforcement process is focused on those things that are serious integrity threats and then we need a penalty structure that provides a real, serious deterrent. Whether or not the death penalty provides that we will have to wait and see. The reality is people are sitting out there now doing a little cost-benefit analysis. ‘Does it make sense to cheat or not? What’s the probability of getting caught or not? Are the consequences of getting caught going to be so grave that I don’t want to engage in this kind of behavior?’ Unfortunately in too many cases they’re concluding that ‘I’m good to go here’ so they will go out and do something foolish or downright unethical. We need to have penalties in place that give all those people serious pause so they say ‘I don’t want to find myself in that situation.’ If that includes the death penalty I’m okay with that.”

Whether or not he feels like the NCAA needs to make an example of Miami:

“Well we don’t want to make an example of anybody. We want to make sure penalties fit the crime and we will always work hard to do that. It’s tough on your fans out there because they see one case with this penalty and another with that penalty. The reality is just like in a court system every situation is unique and distinctive and we’re gonna do our best to make sure everything fits the circumstances of that case.”

If there is too much money in college sports:

“Our mothers all taught us that money is the root of all evil but on the other hand money in college athletics has allowed for a lot of really terrific things. We now give out two billion dollars of scholarship support to student athletes every year. That’s a lot of support going to a lot of kids and allowing 400,000 of them to participate in sports. That’s all made possible by the revenue that is produced by a handful of athletic events. That’s not inherently a bad thing. The fact that people engage in bad behavior isn’t new. The history of the NCAA is over 100 years now and it began 105 years ago because people were cheating in sports and young men were getting hurt playing football. There wasn’t nearly as much money then, but the cheating was just as rampant. You talk to somebody who played ball in the 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s or even into the 70’s, you had all kinds of problems and at that time you didn’t have these great big media contracts. While money is always an issue when there is lots of money involved I don’t think we can blame bad behavior on the fact that there is too much money in the system.”

How tough this past year has been:

“Well in the evening you want to have a nice, stiff scotch right? It’s been a really, really unpleasant offseason and of course I worry about that. That’s a significant part of what we do is protect the real and perceived integrity of intercollegiate sports. You can’t help but say what do we need to do now to restore that benefit of the doubt that we lost along the way here? So we’re going to work hard on it, but the fact is we have to make sure that teams are abiding by our rules and people around the programs are abiding by the rules and if they don’t that everyone understands there are serious consequences. I remember not very long ago there was this mythology that the NCAA would never get involved with major programs. Well it certainly seems like we’re willing to get involved with major programs now.”

Listen to Mark Emmert on 790 the Zone in Atlanta here

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