Somebody will win Saturday’s football game between Ohio State and Miami, which has been jokingly dubbed “the IneligiBowl.” But no matter the outcome, neither team can fairly consider itself a winner.
Both of these football powerhouses are under NCAA investigation for alleged rules violations in which athletes were given cash, gifts and services ranging from tattoos to wild parties on a private yacht. The NCAA, which is rightly determined to make sure its championships can’t be bought, forbids athletes from taking anything from supporters beyond the benefits in their scholarships.
As the muck thickens, the narrative that has taken hold is that the lucrative end of college sports–particularly football–is a fetid swamp that needs to be drained and disinfected. But amid all the righteous indignation, there’s a small but incongruous fact lurking just outside the picture: In most cases where college athletes take money, the sums are pretty small.