Steve Chiotakis: The University of Miami plays Maryland on Labor Day. But it does so under a dark cloud. The NCAA is investing claims that a prominent booster — and convicted Ponzi schemer —
provided players with money, jewelry and even trips to strip clubs. The accusations are so over-the-top that some sports analysts wonder if the NCAA could shut the football program down for at least a year — the so-called ‘”death penalty.” Only one Division I college football program, has been dealt the death penalty: Southern Methodist University in 1987. And the punishment created economic shockwaves. Thaddeus Matula directed the ESPN documentary “Pony Excess,” which chronicled the SMU story. And he’s with us now. Good morning.
Thaddeus Matula: Good morning. Glad to be here, Steve.
Chiotakis: What happened to Southern Methodist after the NCAA handed down the death penalty?
Matula: If you look just at the conference that they could have been in, the Big 12, it averages out a pay out of $10 million a year per school. Now the entire conference that SMU is currently in, Conference USA, the pay out for the whole conference is $3 million. You’re looking at 15 years, that’s a $150 million and then you’re not even looking at television deals and what you’re getting at the gate. I think it’s also important to look at what it’s done to the city of Dallas and the extra revenue that you’ve lost from hotels and people coming in and shopping and all that kind of stuff that goes around a game-day weekend.
Chiotakis: The problem at SMU was very economic in nature, isn’t that right? It mostly boiled down to money.
Matula: Certainly. I mean, we never really found extensive player arrests, there wasn’t academic fraud. It was basically just making sure these kids had money to go out on a Saturday night and that got out of hand a little bit.
Chiotakis: And the accusation in Miami is much more nefarious than that. If the hammer does come down on Miami and they do get the death penalty, you think the economic consequences will be similar?
Matula: Oh yeah. I think Miami will suffer. It’s not just that year or those two years, this is decades because it’s going to force the university to re-evalutate whether they even want to have football. And if it does come back, it’s going to come back in a much more reined in manner because this is a major black eye on the entire institution — not just a football program.
Chiotakis: Thaddeus Matula, director of the documentary “Pony Excess,” thanks for being with us.
Matula: My pleasure. Any time.
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