Muller: Does The NCAA Need To Bring Back The Death Penalty?

By Shawn Muller–
With the Final Four coming up this weekend, the Bulls pushing for an NBA title, and Opening Day for the Sox and Cubs approaching, there are plenty of other things that I should be focused on besides college football, but I just can’t help myself…

College football is a complete mess.

Not a shocking revelation, I know, but you have to wonder what—if anything—the NCAA is going to do to clean it up.

Dirty recruiting tactics–by coaches and well-connected alumni– have probably been in existence since the days of leather helmets and wool uniforms. Granted, the tactics used to sway a player away from one school in favor of your own were much more “tame” back then as compared to today’s standards…$30 and a plow for a kid’s family farm, or a cow would have probably “sealed the deal.” 

But it was still “cheating,” nonetheless. 

Today, recruits and current players are tempted with hundreds and thousands of dollars, houses, cars, tattoos (apparently this is a big deal), and sexual “services.”  With the rash of reports recently concerning potential wrong-doing (and admitted wrong-doing) by programs such as USC, the Cam Newton fiasco surrounding Mississippi State and Auburn, and Ohio State players exchanging merchandise for tattoos and money, and the subsequent “cover-up” by Jim Tressel, is it time to bring the “Death Penalty” back?

I think it is.

When Southern Methodist University was hit with the “Death Penalty” back in 1986, the purpose was to show every football program around the country, that substantial “illegal” conduct by coaches and the boosters supporting the program would no longer be tolerated.

Details of the SMU “Death Penalty” included: the cancellation of the 1987 season (the team could still practice), no home games in 1988 (SMU actually went ahead and canceled the entire 1988 season), no bowl games until 1989, loss of scholarships for four years (the total ended up being 55), only five full-time assistant coaches (usually schools had nine), no off-campus recruiting until 1988, and no recruits could visit until the 1988-89 academic year. 

Since the penalties handed down to SMU by the NCAA, the SMU football program has only been to two bowl games since 1986 (2009 and 2010), and needless to say, the program paid the ultimate price for being “rogue” decades earlier. Because of the devastation caused by the punishment, the NCAA has never gone back to it. 

But why not?

It is time again for coaches, booster, current players, and recruits and their “handlers” to know, that illegal activities will not be tolerated, and the ultimate price will be paid. The blatant disregard for the rules by people involved with some programs is a slap in the face to all of the other programs that are following the rules. A message needs to be sent loud and clear, that if any program is caught breaking the rules (I am talking lack of institutional control…not too many phone calls), they will pay the ultimate price. If that price to pay happens to be the “Death Penalty”…then so be it: it is not like they weren’t warned. 

The longer the NCAA “looks the other way” anytime a big revenue program (I would say small revenue programs too, but we all know they are the only ones who actually DO get into trouble now anyway) is not in compliance with the rules, the worse the infractions and non-compliance are going to get.

Until the NCAA comes up with another “Death Penalty” type of punishment, certain programs are going to continue to view themselves—if they don’t already—as untouchable. They are going to continue to believe–if they don’t already–that they are too important to the NCAA revenue pie: no one is going to mess with them…they are a cash cow.

It is time NCAA.  Bring back the “Death Penalty.” 

No one program is more important than the sum of all your parts.   

Do you agree with Shawn? Post your comments below.

shawn muller 2 9 Muller: Does The NCAA Need To Bring Back The Death Penalty?

Shawn Muller

Shawn Muller has lived in the great city of Chicago for 7 years. He is a 2002 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, in October of 2010, Shawn received his certificate in radio broadcasting. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser” every Thursday night at 8:30 P.M., at

  • Camel Toe Rancher

    Great points Shawn, but a far, far greater lesson desperately needs to be imparted here.

    Seriously, I don’t know if mom- or perhaps your better half- has a very zealous opinion of your looks, but bro- you need to a new web image!

    Seriously, a self-portrait/mug where your chops are lit but your face is cast in shadow? Um, if it helps, I’ll log you on to the site to change it AND, I’ll even write a phony note to your wife and/or mom to explain why we had to change your image. Ok? It’s a win-win here, so, get on with it, yes?

    • Shawn Muller


      Nothing will help my mug….

      Thanks for reading.

  • Dan Rakow

    NO ABSOLUTELY NOT remember what happen to the SMU Mustang Football Program back in the Late 1980’s and I remember everybody at the Campus were very sad to see the Football Program stripped for two Seasons. Before things came crashing down SMU was a huge powerhouse and they were winning Games and got the attenion to the College Football World and when the Program return following the Death Penalty.SMU was never the same and they kept struggling until they made their first Bowl appearance couple a years ago and thet really came along way after the tragedy that occoured.

    • Shawn Muller


      Yes, SMU was a powerhouse in the early part of the 1980’s, but the football programs’ downfall was their own doing. They were blatantly breaking the rules (and so were the other teams in the SWC).

      If they hadn’t been found out, they would have continued to make a mockery of the NCAA. Certain programs are behaving the same way today. Not handing down a major punidshment sends a signal to everyone that it is OK for teams to break the rules….as long as they are bringing in the $$.

      Sorry, but I think it is time for another DP. Who gets it? That is the better question.

      Thanks for reading.

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