BENNER: NCAA alone can’t clean up college football; Oscar in the Hall

Of this, that and the other:

So, along comes the latest “alleged” scandal from major college football—hello, Oklahoma State University—followed by an almost immediate challenge to the NCAA enforcement folks:

What are you going to do about it?

A 10-month investigation by Sports Illustrated has resulted in a series of stories detailing allegations of cash payments based on performance, drug use, academic fraud, phantom employment, and sexual enticements for recruits and athletes who, after their eligibility was used up, were left discarded on the landfill of humanity.

So NCAA, some immediately asked, what are you going to do about it?

Perhaps the larger question is that, if all this occurred over a 10-year period right under everyone’s noses—including, presumably, those of the president and athletic director—at Oklahoma State, where else is it going on and to what extent?

And yet, inquiring minds want to know what the NCAA is going to do about it. Stiff sanctions? The death penalty? Surely it must act, and swiftly.

The sad fact is, the NCAA can hammer Oklahoma State, but it won’t change the culture. There is simply too much at stake, too much money to be made, and too many ancillary benefits to be had from a successful power-conference football program.

The NCAA can’t do anything about the masses who demand entertaining—read, winning—football and don’t care all that much about the methods, morality or integrity void involved in achieving it.

The question—what are you going to do about it?—shouldn’t be posed to the NCAA alone, however. It should be posed to the presidents, commissioners and athletic directors of the power conferences and their members. After all, these are the same people who believe an extra $2,000 “cost-of-living” stipend will deter boosters on the give and players on the take.

Indeed, if the SI story is factual—and let the record show many of the principals, especially the coaches alleged to be involved, are in full-scale denial—OSU players could make $2,000 on a couple of Saturday afternoons.

What are the power conferences going to do about cleaning up their own messes? Just whose programs keep grabbing the headlines? Southern California. Ohio State. Penn State. Auburn. Miami. Oklahoma State.

The guys breaking the rules sure aren’t coming from the Ivy League.

Yet the power conference guys will tell you it’s the NCAA’s fault, including members who are a level down in football or the non-football-playing schools.

All I can say is, check the mirror, fellas.

Moving on …

The game that changed international basketball history was brought to mind last week when Brazil’s Oscar Schmidt was, at long last, inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Presented for induction by none other than our own Larry Bird, Schmidt repeatedly recalled Brazil’s gold-medal-winning victory over the USA in the 1987 Pan American Games. I was privileged to be courtside for that game.

In 2002, when Schmidt came to Indy for the World Basketball Championship, he presented me with a jersey. It is a treasured keepsake from the all-time leading scorer in international basketball history. Oscar is in the Hall, where he belongs.

I would be remiss, of course, if I also didn’t note the induction of late Indiana Pacers great Roger Brown. That, too, was long overdue. Yet there still remains one other in that category: Slick Leonard. The time to finally right that wrong is 2014.

Finally, a thought on one other Brazilian, Tony Kanaan. The reigning Indy 500 champ was at the Speedway last week for testing and, without an IndyCar ride locked up for next year, admitted he was a “free agent” entertaining overtures from other series, including a couple from NASCAR.

TK belongs in IndyCar and nowhere else, especially not in a stock car.•


Benner is senior associate commissioner for external affairs for the Horizon League college athletic conference and a former sports columnist for The Indianapolis Star. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at He also has a blog,

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