Perhaps the most notorious sanction in the NCAA for violating the rules is the dismissal of scholarships. In the recent past, USC, due to Reggie Bush’s illegal benefits, lost 30 scholarships over a three year span. Penn State, currently in the midst of their own scandal involving sexual harassment allegations towards Sandusky, will likely face even more severe repercussions. While for many, this may seem like a fair punishment to the University and its program, what happens to the young athletes whose hopes and dreams of playing at a collegiate level are crushed? It is really fair to take away their chances? In the midst of the controversy, the public tends to forget about the consequences it will have on future athletes and only pays attention to how the University will “pay” for the damages.
Along with programs being hindered of scholarships, many Universities will vacate wins, receive bans from BCS games, and, many times the people directly (or perhaps indirectly) involved will be fired. Most of these consequences affect individuals who had nothing to do with the scandal and I do not believe it is fair to take away their pride for their program when they are completely innocent in the violations. While it is hard to imagine a different way of punishing a program for their violations, taking away scholarships, wins etc., seems to chastise the players rather than the people more directly involved.
According to John Rawls, inequalities should only occur when they benefit the worst-off people in society (this is known as the difference principle). If we are to use Rawls’ arguments, then the ban of scholarships would be wrongful punishment as if leaves the people who were unable to pay their way through college in the dust. These “worst-off” athletes are presented with another unfair disadvantage and thus the inequality that was created should not be allowed. Rawls’ theories would support scholarships as they are an inequality that benefits and acts as an advantage to the people who need it most.
I believe that when a program loses scholarships, it not only places young, aspiring athletes at an even greater disadvantage but it lashes out on the wrong people. I think that the NCAA should re-evaluate the consequences they give Universities in terms of scholarships and try and come up with something that doesn’t leave the people at the bottom completely lost.
What do you think? Do you disagree with Rawls and believe that losing scholarships is fair punishment or do you think that there should be a new system implemented that doesn’t put kids at a higher disadvantage?