Eight student athletes from the university of Miami were recently asked to repay the money they illegally received from university booster Nevin Shapiro and athletics personnel. They also were given various levels of game suspensions based on the amount of money and benefits that they received.
While there are larger questions regarding student athletes and their status in the college environment, one has to applaud the NCAA for making a decision that supports its rules and still allows the athletes to return to sport. It is important to remember, that these were kids/young adults corrupted by adults and by the larger society in which we all live.
It is easy to look at a college kid and wonder what he or she could possibly be thinking to accept something that is obviously against the rules. However, who are the adults influencing these kids? What is their role in tempting a kid, who perhaps did not grow up with many choices and maybe did not even have what most people consider to be the basic material needs in life covered?
In this particular case, it took an apparently corrupt adult willing to take advantage and a kid looking for some fun. These young student/athletes might be talented, but they are still young and in need of direction, which if I understand correctly is one of the goals of college. For most college kids, maturity is suspect and the potential vulnerability to nefarious adults is high.
Additionally, one cannot ignore the general society in which we all live as part of the problem. Our current society has been overrun by the "take as much as you can mentality." In the business world there are the CEOs and upper level managers demanding enormous sums of money and at the bottom there are the unions asking for as much as possible. Literally, every level of our society is infected by this concept of taking as much as possible and the continual need or lust for greater material and personal gratification.
In an ideal situation, it would be nice to blame the individual. After all, we are all ultimately responsible for our own actions. Unfortunately or fortunately, we are also greatly influenced by the surrounding environment in which we live. The current environment in which we all are living has seen an extreme graying of the lines between right and wrong or the ethical and unethical. In fact, in most instances, with justification as the goal one can make a case for both sides being right or both sides being wrong.
College sport has fallen victim to these attitudes of society. College kids, especially high level college athletes are no longer insulated or protected from the outside world. Even the colleges themselves are guilty of allowing for this exploitation. It is not just the errant booster. There is a systematic failure. After all, we live in a world where money talks - actually a world in which money screams at the highest decibels for attention. With corrupt adults and the temptations of society, perhaps the kids who break NCAA rules and accept money are not cheaters, but victims?