However, as Skip Oliva notes in this article on Lew Rockwell's Page, there are real problems with that system, and they are borne of the hypocritical notion that colleges and universities are "protecting amateur athletics," as though this were a Holy Cause. Furthermore, we often fail to understand what really is behind this notion of "cheating" as defined by the NCAA and its groupies in the mainstream media.
Being that I saw "cheating" from a different vantage point (and, yes, pretty much everyone in college sports "cheats" at one level or another), my view of all of this is going to be quite different than the view of the typical sports journalist who seems to believe that the NCAA rules stand for All That Is Good And Holy.
As with so many other things in our current body politic that have created so much harm (i.e. the Federal Reserve System, and the exponential growth of federal regulatory agencies), the NCAA is a creation of the Progressive Era and, specifically, the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.
(Yes, TR is a favorite of both Democrats and Republicans because he tried to run his office like a dictatorship, and today we love the "take-charge President," although we probably know in our heart of hearts that the President cannot really be an action hero like we saw on "Air Force One," or, as I call it, "Air Farce One.")
For all of the egalitarian talk that we have coming from our modern colleges and universities, the concept of amateurism was developed precisely to protect the wealthy and privileged from competition from people of the "lower classes."Mr. Oliva writes:
Amateurism itself is a class-based concept. In Walter Camp's day, an amateur was merely a generalist who didn't specialize in a particular sport or hobby. This excluded members of the "working classes," because their specialty in physical labor gave them an unfair advantage over gentlemen of the privileged classes (like Camp). The idea of paying amateur athletes was unnecessary, as their social position made it unnecessary.
By the early 20th century, academics transformed amateurism into a moral code consistent with collectivist principles. Howard Savage, a Carnegie Foundation official in the 1930s, said "professionalism in school and college athletics … is a most serious evil," and that amateurism represented "the moral struggle between force and the uses to which, with the sanction of our civilization, it may be used and should be put." In other words, athletes were barbarians who had to be tamed by the "civilizing" presence of academics. Savage noted that while it was acceptable for students in artistic fields to profit from their work – because they offered "tests of even temper and self-control" – it was never acceptable for athletes to profit from their efforts.