In a move straight out of the Law & Order playbook, it turns out that the NCAA is letting players turn state’s witness in exchange for their playing freedom, a concept referred to as “limited immunity.”
I can already hear the cries from Joe 12-Pack:
“So, Scott Free goes out for a steak on a booster’s dime and gets away with it if he tattles? That’s outrageous! Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Nice example, NCAA.”
Plenty of stuff the NCAA does is stupid, but it deserves some credit here. If it really hopes to make a dent in the showering of college athletes with “impermissible benefits,” this is actually a decent approach.
(Fellow CBR writer Michael Felder has touched on the topic of college football amnesty in the past as well)
The simple fact that often gets lost on people bitching about college athletes taking cash and cars and jewelry is that there would be no bling to take if it wasn’t being offered. Rather than policing misconduct after it occurs, deterring it in the first place actually provides a more effective solution to curb malfeasance.
In other words, this new “enforcement tool” has nothing to do with punishing amateurism scofflaws and everything to do with deterring their enablers.
Now, knowing that a player can drop the dime on you and still play, how does that change the calculus of cheating for a booster with lots of money and little hesitancy to hand out gifts to players and recruits? In theory, the reality that the kid could hand over the goods on you and the Old Alma Mater - and suffer no consequences, aside from a likely transfer - should have a chilling effect on yacht-sex shenanigans, even if they won’t be stopped altogether.
Whether or not the NCAA should be in the business of promoting “snitching” will surely create some debate. Rightfully so.
Yet, the objective in this case isn’t to encourage players to rat people out, it’s to discourage people from giving them that opportunity.
Follow Crystal Ball Run on Twitter @CrystalBallRun
Follow Allen Kenney on Twitter @blatanthomerism