NCAA going through rough stretch of scandals
The NCAA has had a rough run-up to its premier event.
The Fiesta Bowl fired its CEO and will be asked to justify its inclusion in the BCS over an alleged political reimbursement scheme. Four Auburn players told HBO that they were paid while playing or being recruited at the school.
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel will miss the first five games of next season for failing to report that his players sold memorabilia and received improper benefits.
And that's just the past month.
On the eve of his first Final Four as NCAA president, Mark Emmert is working toward changing the increasingly-negative image of the organization he leads.
''Like it or not, the things that are wrong often wind up being highlighted,'' Emmert said Thursday. ''That's not a shot at the media; that's just the way the world works. We need to, therefore, make sure that people understand if there are things that are awry, we will put them right.''
A lot has gone awry.
The NCAA investigated Auburn quarterback Cam Newton for a pay-to-play scheme involving his father, eventually clearing the Heisman Trophy winner but not his father. Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl acknowledged he had lied to investigators and was later fired - after the basketball and football programs already had been hit with a dozen violations.
Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun, whose team is playing in this weekend's Final Four, was serve a three-game suspension next season for failing to create an atmosphere of compliance within his program.
And those are just the highlights. Now Emmert wants the NCAA to take a hard look at whether its penalties are effective enough to stop more from happening.
''We cannot have coaches, administrators, parents or student-athletes sitting out there deciding: 'Is this worth the risk? If I conduct myself in this fashion and I get caught, it's still worth the risk,'' Emmert said. ''We don't want those kinds of cost-benefit analyses going on.''
The scandal with the Fiesta Bowl could have wide-ranging ramifications.
The bowl's board of directors voted unanimously on Tuesday to fire president and CEO Junker ''for his improper and inappropriate activities documented'' in a scathing report that outlined more than $46,000 in political contribution reimbursements that may be in violation of Arizona state campaign laws, along with the charter that allowed the Fiesta Bowl its nonprofit status.
An internal report also showed hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of dollars, in ''excessive compensation, nonbusiness and inappropriate expenditures and inappropriate gifts.''
Criminal charges may be filed, and BCS officials have stepped in, telling the Fiesta Bowl to persuade them that nothing like this will ever happen again or the bowl will lose its place in college football's lucrative championship system.
Emmert said he has scanned the report and is keeping a close eye on the situation.
''You can't indict the entire bowl system because of what's gone on there,'' he said. ''My hope is that it will also serve as I guess a warning shot that every other board in every other community that runs a bowl game makes sure that they're doing the oversight, compliance and due diligence to make sure their bowl games are well-run. We have no reason to believe that's not the case.''