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NCAA scandals go far beyond Odell Beckham Jr. paying out cash to LSU players

Odell Beckham Jr. handed out cash to LSU football players Justin Jefferson, Jontre Kirklin and Joe Burrow on the Superdome field after the Tigers beat Clemson to win the national championship last week.

Heck, for all we know, OBJ paid some players whose first names didn’t start with J. I suppose we ought to be pleased that Beckham didn’t combine his post-game nonsense and try to bribe a peace officer. Paying players, assaulting security guards, it’s all in a day’s work for Baker Mayfield’s tortured receiver.

The money-changing – initially dismissed by an LSU spokesman as fake bills — was a bad look for the NCAA and for LSU. But it should have been no cause for outrage. Just a gooberhead being a gooberhead.

I mean, this is a university that still employs Will Wade as basketball coach. Wade is a poster child for a college basketball corruption, but there he is, still on the hardwood for the Tigers.

According to Yahoo Sports, an FBI wiretap caught Wade and aspiring agent Christian Dawkins discussing why a prime recruit didn’t take a “strong-ass” offer. “I know now,” Wade said of recruit Javonte Smart, “he didn’t get enough of the piece of the pie in the deal.”

The feds’ investigation of a scheme to funnel money to assistant coaches, players and families resulted in the arrests of 10 people in September 2017, including Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans.

Eventually, programs like Kansas, Arizona and Louisville were caught up in the scandal, too. Arizona coach Sean Miller seemed doomed, and Kansas has been hit with a major notice of allegations.

But the only coach who has lost his job so far is Rick Pitino, fired at Louisville because of a string of embarrassments over the years. And the NCAA has released only one notice of allegations to a blueblood: Kansas, while also doing the same to OSU, North Carolina State, TCU and Southern Cal.

The NCAA, which long has lamented its lack of subpoena power, was given the gift of an FBI investigation, complete with arrests and now convictions and all kinds of wiretap information. Yet the NCAA barely has responded to the scandal, which now is 28 months old.

So we’re left to conclude the obvious. The NCAA has lost its appetite for enforcement. The NCAA, facing its own problems in court cases involving health issues and paying players for the commercial use of their likenesses, has no stomach for war on yet another front.

If a school self reports some rules violations, fine. The NCAA will jump right in. Might not even grant an appeal, as in the case of Missouri, over self-reported academic issues.

But the NCAA doesn’t have the willpower to launch its own investigations and see them through. Enforcement never was an NCAA strength, and it’s now an NCAA weakness.

LSU shows that. Heck, as USA Today reported, LSU booster John Paul Funes pled guilty last year to embezzling more than $800,000 from a hospital charitable foundation, including gift cards meant for cancer patients. The case showed that some of the money went to the father of LSU offensive lineman Vadal Alexander.

And you want to the NCAA to come down on OBJ? Don’t chase the shoplifter when the bank’s being robbed.

This is not to pick on LSU. Will Wade obviously is not the only rotten basketball coach in America. LSU is not the only school with out-of-control boosters who have lost not just their moral compass, but their soul.

It’s just that when a spotlight addict like Odell Beckham Jr. gets a field pass, his team wins and the $100 bills fly like confetti, don’t point fingers to OBJ. He’s just goofy, the product of a system that’s corrupt.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at btramel@oklahoman.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at oklahoman.com/berrytramel.

Related Photos
<strong>Former LSU star Odell Beckham Jr. walks off the field after the national championship game last week. [AP Photo/Gerald Herbert]</strong>

Former LSU star Odell Beckham Jr. walks off the field after the national championship game last week. [AP Photo/Gerald Herbert]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-d397177d2db05cfc7c787a0737f37588.jpg" alt="Photo - Former LSU star Odell Beckham Jr. walks off the field after the national championship game last week. [AP Photo/Gerald Herbert] " title=" Former LSU star Odell Beckham Jr. walks off the field after the national championship game last week. [AP Photo/Gerald Herbert] "><figcaption> Former LSU star Odell Beckham Jr. walks off the field after the national championship game last week. [AP Photo/Gerald Herbert] </figcaption></figure>
Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

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