College / Mar 22, 2010 / 5:26 pm

How do you feel about “cheating” in the NCAA?

John Calipari and Tyreke Evans

According to the poll we posted on DimeMag.com after NCAA Tournament overall No. 1 seed Kansas was knocked out by Northern Iowa over the weekend, Kentucky is the overwhelming favorite to go the rest of the way and win the national championship.

Going into the tourney, that distinction was a toss-up between a handful of high seeds. What wasn’t really up for debate was which team has been the most polarizing from a love/hate standpoint: Even taking out perennial winner Duke, it was Kentucky by a Derby mile.

Whether it’s their almost unfair reservoir of talent, old bitterness renewed for a program that had been down for a few years, or just general dislike of first-year coach John Calipari, I ran into more Kentucky haters this season than I knew existed. Even on my end, I found myself rooting for UK to lose a few games along the way, just because a lot of zealous Wildcat fans I encountered needed a big “Settle Down” pill to balance their system.

But another reason people don’t like Kentucky now is the same reason they don’t like Barry Bonds, the New England Patriots, and Tiger Woods: Cheating.

I’m not at all accusing Calipari or those who work for him of anything at Kentucky — I’m a fan of his from my few professional interactions with him — but because he built a legacy at Memphis and UMass where programs under his watch got in trouble for significant NCAA violations, he knows full-well that the watchdogs are on him. He has a reputation now. And by going to a tradition-rich school like Kentucky, where there are plenty of rich alumni who really want (and expect) the Wildcats to win national championships, the potential for some rule-breaking booster activity is higher than with, say, the Cornell team Kentucky is going to play in the Sweet Sixteen this week.

Because of Cal’s history and because he immediately built a powerhouse upon arriving in Lexington, Ky., a lot of people would like to think he’s doing it dirty.

Whether that’s true or not, the larger issue, if you ask me, is how we should look at NCAA violations and the system in general. As I’ve written before, I think a lot of NCAA rules are outdated, misguided, too easily misinterpreted, and sometimes just silly. College sports are currently more of a business now than a bastion of pure amateurism — and that business thrives on marketing, money, and maybe bending if not breaking the rules at times.

Knowing that, I’ve talked to more than a few college fans who admit they wouldn’t feel bad if their team won a national title thanks in part to cheating. Some of them take the “Everybody else is doing it” approach of teenagers who smoke weed; others believe the rules are too harsh in the first place and don’t mind a little harmless disobedience.

What’s your opinion? Do you think the NCAA has the right idea, or is it time to re-evaluate and potentially overhaul the entire system? And would it bother you if you knew your favorite school was cheating under the current rules, and just wasn’t getting caught?

Tell us what you think, and we’ll print some of the best answers in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

**Dime reserves the right to edit submissions for length and clarity.**

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  • Yucca Man

    I wouldn’t mind an overhaul, but there are some things that cross the line.

    Students cheating on SAT’s and ACT’s to get into the school. Sorry, if you’re too dumb to pass your own freaking test, then you’re too dumb to go to college and you’re too dumb to play college ball.

    I actually would love the NBA to require a Bachelor’s degree before employing players. If the dudes want to be a one-and-done guy, let him take 8 AP classes plus concurrent enrollment in high school to graduate within a year. Work for it. I know the NBA will never, ever do it, I know the Player’s Association would rather nuke itself than let it happen, but I think it would rock.

    Especially if the NBA required something like Public Relations or Accounting degrees to help the few idiot players understand a bit about marketing and image, and to help the many, many players from blowing their fortune within 5 years.

  • 12thMan

    Yuccca got it, except the Bachelor’s degree is iffy. We can’t pretend college ball is about the learning part, so just make sure they do what they have to in high school (testing, etc) and move on

  • me

    pay the players like 10k-20k a year. and punish any infractions with no scholarships and all school profits from that sport donated to charity for 5 years.

  • LakeShow84

    The NBA’s been cheating it so whats the difference..

  • Dangertronix

    @1&2- Actually, I think Whitlock, or someone from Fox Sports, addressed something similar to that a little while back. Basically his whole point was that the NCAA heavies should start to offer a “Pro Athlete” major, where kids with legit chances at going pro would focus their majors on things like personal finance and marketing and the assorted whatnot that goes along with professional athleticism. Basically, to prevent kids from Antoine Walker-ing themselves… Slightly off topic, but not a bad idea…

  • s.e.

    The NCAA rules are archaic, and I assume that every major school is “cheating.” I don’t really care because it’s a lie to pretend that college ball isn’t big business.

  • Drink the Haterade

    wasnt it Chris Webber who could afford the lunch and across the way they were selling his jersey for like 50 bucks.

  • Drink the Haterade

    i meant couldnt

  • Promoman

    While it’s true that the NCAA does pimp the players, the players get over too. They get chances & resources that regular students don’t get. If a nonathlete can’t pass the entrance exam, the SAT/ACT, doesn’t have the money or falls behind in classes due to life circumstances, they’re much more likely to wind up fucked than the athletes. They don’t have anyone appointed to bail them out. Mind you, this is only in terms of just being admitted to a school. Let’s not forget about the untold amounts of people who could play legitimate college basketball & have the grades, but slip through the cracks because they don’t have the money to go to school.

  • http://myspace.com/anoepheckz PHECKZ!?

    I was tryna look beyond the typical wildcat hate, and dwell deeper into the “violations” Coach Cal has laid upon his school this year.

    Which all I could find was previous school’s and a premature account that Kentucky would be in the same hole as those teams.

    Bottom line, those school’s could care less about those violations because at the time, they were making millions of dollars from Coach Cal giving those teams exposure on a national level, more commercials, more jersey sells, more students enrolling and so on.

    So if cheating gets a school all of this, from their view and mine, we are all in the gray area, in a perceived “black and white” area, which i wouldn’t have a bit of “sadness” if ma “cheating school” won but…

    what is considered cheating???

    Til you explain that, i will be able to answer your question honestly.

    pheckz!!

  • quest???

    FUCK WEED, BE ORIGINAL!

  • Mikey F Baby

    I’m a proud Kentucky hater!!! Go Cornell

  • Dave

    I feel like people dont hate kentucky because they cheat they hate them because they have insane fans. Its no different then any one of the sports franchises in and around Boston… People hate them because the fans go over the top and dont know when to stop its rediculous. To be honest I hated the Patriots before this current year but meeting extremist Boston fans has made me hate everything about the sports franchises. I feel like people forget about the cheating scandals sometimes because they know it happens everywhere but it is the fans that make teams hated. I’m interested to hear what other people think

  • http://bt.davka.info/ SparkyJ23

    Pay em and give the college spot to those that need it –
    If they want to learn let em but all these business degrees going to folk who proptly spend they’re cash on diamonds? fuck that

  • AVeezie

    “If you aint cheating…you aint tryin to win” Eddie Guerrero

  • Taj

    Over haul the system, rules, etc… Pay the kids some, cause the NCAA and the school’s are making way more off their backs than we can imagine. As a coach I should be able to text a kid at some point, thats how the kids are communicating these days..

  • Kywildcatfan

    Dave says:

    “I feel like people dont hate kentucky because they cheat they hate them because they have insane fans.”

    Yea we sure are crazy about our team, but I would say throwing bottles at players and referees, a la Mississippi State, and chanting foul and derogatory things at players and coaches, a la WVU, is far more over the top than anything I’ve ever seen at Kentucky and I have been a fan for 20+ years.

  • conrad

    Lebron puts up 98 % of money for sports agent company … company in others names… Lebron talks frequently to Kentucky players , including Wall to funel recruits to hi company ! MAJOR INFRACTION UK fans get ready for sanctions AGAIN ! NCAA get your head out..