The UK’s Independent and the ‘fiction’ of amateur US College Football.

The UK’s Independent is running an exposé on Nevin Shapiro and the University of Miami’s Football program. Nevin Shapiro, a known ponzi-schemer who ran a racket of some $934 million dollars, is alleged to have provided University of Miami football players with cash, incentives, liquor, prostitutes, abortions and any other deviant good they may have needed. As one of the University of Miami’s largest Football boosters, Nevin Shapiro had close ties with the University of Miami’s Football program and violated NCAA rules like it was his job, aside from bilking people out of their money. Shapiro’s scheme that funded this lavish treatment and gross violation of rules was based upon selling groceries wholesale and then selling them for higher prices in better markets. Of course, he never actually did anything with groceries but rather just schemed money out of people and paid returns to older investors with money from new investors. Really my sympathy only goes so far if you invest in a capital group that generates 26% percent returns from buying and selling wholesale groceries. At least Bernie Madoff pretended to invest in real things. Nonetheless, the Independent’s Rupert Cornwell argues that the University of Miami scandal exposes a well-known fact about American college football, namely, that it is not a collection of amateurs who simply play for the love of the sport but rather a multibillion dollar industry on par with or greater than the NFL itself. Quite a jaded point of view, if you ask me, since many schools benefit greatly in terms of academics and funding from a successful football program. Rupert Cornwell does express cultural differences between the way football is received in America and the way American football is perceived in the world. His suggestions of paying the athletes also belies this notion. Direct payment, or turning college football into the NFL, undermines the purpose that football serves on college campuses, which in many instances  provides the majority of the funding for other athletic programs within the college. It is easy to be jaded where college football is concerned, but it makes sense when you consider the rabid fanaticism that some fans display for their team. While Nevin Shapiro is a corrupt man, there are others who have earned their money legitimately that feel as strongly about their college team. Should they be allowed to spend as lavishly as Shapiro did? How different would it be if the rules were more strict, or if it employed a more market based approach?