The Power and Influence of College Football Programs

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With the most recent allegations surrounding the University of Tennessee, it appears another case of Football Program vs. University is underway. If the allegations are true, Tennessee football has failed at covering up a serious issue and imposing its power on the actual university. It could most certainly end with Head Coach Butch Jones losing his job after calling one of his players a “traitor” for aiding one of the alleged rape victims. In the report this player also claims he was physically abused by teammate and star defensive player, Curt Maggitt, amongst verbal abuse from other teammates as well. Again, at this point everything is speculation, but if the events do end up having some truth to them, Tennessee will be caught red handed trying to cover up a serious crime against a university student at the hands of the football players and even the head of the program, Butch Jones. This is just another prime example of how football programs at major universities have gained so much power over the years, mainly because of the profits that they bring in. Tennessee is not the only program to wield their power over the university and they most certainly will not be the last.

The University of Alabama recently reported their finances to the NCAA and it showed that they brought in a net profit of 46 million dollars. To put that in perspective, the rest of the athletic teams brought in 16 million dollars in revenue, so without the football program’s profits, the athletic department as a whole would have lost about 30 million dollars after expenses. These enormous profits give the football program an unreal amount of power in the university and allows them to have leverage over university matters. So when a situation arises that could potentially hurt the football program, they just exercise that power and do whatever it takes to ensure that their image and potential earnings will not take a big hit. Some schools are just better at having absolute power and not getting caught using their influence.

It is to no one’s surprise that these allegations have hit Florida State University’s football program on a few different instances. Everyone knew about the Jameis Winston rape scandal in which he won the case, but many people concluded that we will never know the real story because the law enforcement in Tallahassee did what was necessary to ensure that the program would not take a hit by losing their star quarterback. In another case, both starting cornerbacks for FSU were involved in a collision late into the night in which they ran into another car and fled the scene. When they eventually returned to the scene, officers who originally labeled the incident as a hit and run, just gave the driver two traffic tickets and he never had to participate in an alcohol test and after a few days it seemed as if the incident never happened. If that had happened to a normal university student, would the circumstances and punishment have been the same? It is no secret anymore that these major football programs have power and are the dominant organization in these college towns.

There are many other examples which seem to never end, like the University of Florida having 80 athletes named as suspects in crimes from 2009-2014 but many of the cases resulted in charges being dropped or the athletes never being prosecuted. An example being the infamous Aaron Hernandez, who admitted to drinking underage and hitting a bar manager but the police never charged him with underage drinking or battery but allowed the coaching staff to handle it internally. Would a student who was caught drinking underage and striking someone else get the same luxury?

We can all be at fault for these incidents because of the support we have for our sports teams. The fans make the athletes feel like they have the power to do anything because they are famous and do a lot for the brand of the university in which they play for. They are put on a platform at a very young age and many have not developed the maturity to handle being a star athlete yet. When the teams keep bringing in so much money for the university and for the city it is hard to not let them have this power. It has become an issue that cannot be fixed overnight or easily resolved because we all love college football and would never think that our favorite teams are capable of corruption but the sad reality is that this will probably continue to happen as long as money is being made and the athletes continue to feel like they are invincible.

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