Column: You win, big-time college athletics

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Maybe it’s time to wave the white flag.

Just concede that college sports will always be a cesspool of under-the-table payouts, win-at-all-cost coaches, look-the-other-way administrators, out-of-control boosters, and athletes who make a mockery of the word “student.”

After another glorious week in the annals of higher education _ Oklahoma State was accused of widespread violations in its football program by Sports Illustrated, while Yahoo Sports reported that several Southeastern Conference players received illicit payments _ do any of us believe the guys running this multibillion-dollar enterprise have any intention of going legitimate?

No way.

They throw out a bone every now and then _ graduation rates that suit their purposes, for instance _ but in reality this whole business is just a step above the Sopranos.

There are plenty of good ideas out there, but most of them will never see the light of day.

It’s so much more profitable to lurk in the shadows.

Coaches making millions, while some of their own players barely have enough money to live on. Athletic directors selling off their universities to the highest bidder, traditional rivalries and logical alignments be damned. College presidents lurking around the locker room after big wins like star-struck fans, doling out “Atta boys” to players who have no chance of leaving campus with a diploma.

But, really, they are not the problem.

The real problem is right there in the mirror.

Sure, we talk a good game. But do we really have any intention of giving up those fancy tailgate parties, shared on Saturdays with 100,000 of our closest friends? Would we stand for a university president lecturing us on the dangers of turning our cathedrals of learning into de facto minor-league programs, as Joab Thomas had the nerve to do at Alabama in the mid-1980s before he was quickly shown the door?

No way.

“The NCAA is a reflection of the culture of its members,” Colby B. Jubenville, a professor in the Leisure, Sport and Tourism program at Middle Tennessee State, wrote in an email. “The culture is driven by the fans, boosters and alumni who are obsessed with three things: WIN, WIN BIG, WIN NOW.”

He’s right, of course.

Otherwise, we already would’ve implemented the sort of major changes that is so desperately needed.

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