By Shawn Muller–

The NCAA is the biggest joke in all of sports.

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A couple of week ago, Auburn quarterback Cam Newton was deemed eligible to play in the SEC Championship game against South Carolina. The NCAA determined that the “rule of agency” principle did not apply in the Newton situation because there was no proof that Cam Newton and Auburn University had any knowledge of Cecil Newton (Cam’s father) soliciting “pay for play” opportunities for his son.

As we all know, Auburn and Cam Newton went on to beat South Carolina in that SEC title game and are getting set to play the University of Oregon in the National Championship on January 10th, 2011.

So what exactly did we learn from the Newton situation?

Simple: if a college athlete finds himself in hot water with the NCAA, he just needs to play the “I know nothing” defense. That way, the athlete can still play without fear of penalty because they are just innocent little boys that had no idea rules were being broken. If penalties do get handed down for future seasons, the player who broke the rules, is given ample time to declare himself eligible for the NFL Draft, and thus, avoids suspension all together.

Pretty sweet deal for the players huh? Thanks to Cam Newton, the “I know nothing” defense towards NCAA investigators by college athletes, was born.

It didn’t take long for other players around the country to learn the ways of the “I know nothing” defense.

One needs to look no further than the Big Ten Conference. Some members of the Ohio State Buckeyes football team are already becoming well-versed in it.

Star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, leading-rusher Dan “Boom” Herron, wideout DeVier Posey, lineman Mike Adams, and backup defensive end Solomon Thomas, were found to have committed rules infractions by the NCAA for selling championship rings, game jerseys, and awards. The players are also accused of receiving improper benefits from a tattoo parlor as well.

The penalty for such blatant rules violations: all five players must sit for the first five games of the 2011 regular season….assuming they all don’t bolt for the NFL draft in April.

In the instance that any of the players do in fact, declare themselves eligible for the NFL draft, no penalty will been incurred at all. Yes, you read that correctly. The suspensions are not immediate and the players will be allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl against the University of Arkansas. All five players involved have the opportunity to move on without penalty.

What ever happened to immediately serving a punishment for breaking the rules? You know…suffering the consequences of your own actions. I don’t care if the players involved are superstars or the fifth-stringers, every one of them needs to sit immediately. If it happens to be the bowl game, then so be it.

Everyone knows that immediate suspension would have been the right thing to do in this situation, but Ohio State football is too important to the NCAA.

Suspending five key players from a major cash-cow program, like the Buckeyes, from participating in a BCS bowl game would hurt television ratings and revenue stream. Everyone knows that the NCAA is all about maximizing profits while minimizing integrity. They will easily sacrifice their integrity in order to maximize their profits by allowing Ohio State to play at full-strength.

Fairly or unfairly, that is the reality of the situation.

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Of course, that is not the reasoning you will here from the heads of the NCAA. That would involve telling the truth.

Instead, they would rather feed us the same tired excuses regarding their inability to govern it’s member institutions and players.

Unfortunately for us, we are fed this gem: according to the NCAA, the Ohio State players are not immediately suspended because they, “did not receive adequate rules education during the time frame it [the infractions] occurred.” Are you sure that is the story you want to stick with NCAA? Because they were not adequately educated on rules education when they decided to break the rules? How dumb do you think we all are?

No one can tell me that these kids didn’t know what they were doing was wrong. They absolutely knew it was wrong. How can the other players on the team, with the same amount of “inadequate rules education”, and the same amount of “merchandise”, be smart enough to know that selling gear and hardware was a violation, yet these five were not?

Of course, there are people such as DeVier Posey’s mother and Terrelle Pryor’s high school coach who are saying that the players sold the items to get money to help their families out financially.

Stop right there!

These kids were in direct violation of the NCAA rule book.

I would never have a problem with a young man wanting to help his family out in a time of need. But when helping the family out involves breaking the rules and jeopardizing your eligibility, I can’t say I understand.

If the players really wanted to help their families out financially, there are better ways to go about doing it. How about earning your college degree (that you don’t have to pay for) to enter into a career field that yields a high salary? If you are a sure-fire NFL draft pick, wait until you sign a professional contract where it is legal to get paid for being an athlete.

If both of those options just aren’t in the cards, at least you could always go to old reliable and give your family some of the money you get from boosters in the form of “hundred dollar handshakes”. At least that money is virtually impossible to trace! Sure you will still be breaking the rules by taking money on the side, but this is the NCAA remember!

You are only breaking the rules if you acknowledge you are breaking the rules.

Bravo NCAA! You sure know how to rule with an iron fist.

Do you agree with Shawn? Post your comments below.

Shawn Muller

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Shawn Muller has lived in Chicago for 7 years. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and just recently received his certificate in radio broadcasting in October of 2010. Sports have always been a passion of Shawn’s. 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” at