College Conference Commissioners’ Integrity Woes

Integrity and college sports?



The college football season kicks off but the hype started long before the first ball was put on the tee. College football remains enormously popular and that might grow as more states get into the legalized gambling game. Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey are up and going, West Virginia will start soon followed by Mississippi and Pennsylvania. College football officials are more concerned with that than say the Ohio State and Maryland problems which should be far bigger issues than gambling. But various conference commissioners are infatuated with the word integrity as in protecting the integrity of college football in this new day of gambling. There has always been gambling on college football, and in fact the point spread is an integral part of college football as gamblers have helped make the industry rich. The College Football Hall of Fame should consider putting Charles K. McNeil, a compulsive gambler, into the building as a builder. It is McNeil who invented the point spread. College officials who are so worried about gambling seem to agree with Major League Baseball that they should get a piece of the action, perhaps one percent and use that money to do what states do anyway, police sports gambling.

College football has far bigger problems than sports gambling. The industry has tried to discredit studies that link concussions suffered on the practice and playing field to permanent brain injuries that former players are talking about. Then there are the problems with the culture of sexual harassment and abuse that seems to found a spot in college programs at Penn State, Baylor and Ohio State among others. But the games must go on. College football is a big business for everyone except the unpaid players who bring in the money from TV, from luxury boxes, club seats, ticket licenses and merchandise. Without the players, there is no game.

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer speaking at the Big Ten Conference NCAA college football Media Days in Chicago.  (AP Photo/Annie Rice)