On one hand, I am a serious college-sports fan. There's nothing else in sports like the atmosphere at a big college football game.
On the other hand, I recognize that the NCAA has numerous, serious problems. At most schools, in the big college sports, money is the top concern, with winning a close second; other concerns—like academics, fairness and ethics—are secondary, at best.
For evidence of this, look no further than the UA's hiring of Rich Rodriguez as the new football coach.
Rodriguez's record is terrible—when it comes to ethics, if not on the football field. At West Virginia University, he skipped town for greener pastures shortly after signing a new contract. His December 2007 departure was so ugly that he didn't even bother to coach his team in their January 2008 bowl game. West Virginia wound up suing Rodriguez for breach of contract—and eventually got all the money it sought in a settlement.
What did Rodriguez do at his next stop, the University of Michigan? He violated several major NCAA rules. When players came forward to discuss the violations—which included Rodriguez and his staff making players practice longer than the rules allow—he denied he was in the wrong. "We go by the rules," Rodriguez said.
Later, the university admitted to the rules violations.
Now, after those disgraceful activities, he's the new UA football coach, with a five-year, $9.55 million contract—with incentives beyond that.
In making this hire, UA athletic director Greg Byrne proved the above point: At the UA, money and winning are apparently more important than academics, fairness and ethics.