By Brendan Ryan

Over a decade ago, the prominent Duke Professor and researcher, Dan Ariely, authored a seminal work titled “The Honest Truth About Dishonesty.” Ariely’s intellectual work delved into the human inclination to gently bend the rules. In academia, such transgressions have historically led to banishment. However, this has not transferred into the world of college athletics. Here it seems that there seems to be an underlying mantra of “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.”

Nestled within the maze of the NCAA’s regulations, college sports administrations are entrusted with the solemn duty to embody “institutional control.” This entails conducting their affairs in a manner that faithfully mirrors the mindset and values of their respective institutions. The gravity of this responsibility is underscored by the substantial investments universities make in administrative resources, often eclipsing their financial commitments to sports scholarships. In fact, at many major conference schools, the stark ratio between administrators and scholarship funds paints a disconcerting picture, with an unsettling disparity of $3 allocated to each administrator for every $1 earmarked for scholarships.

With a clear mission and ample resources at their disposal, college sports departments should, in theory, epitomize integrity and adherence to the rules. Yet, the disheartening reality is that we all recognize the stark divergence from this ideal. This leads us to a pressing question: To what extent does deceit permeate the realm of college sports? In a quest for answers, I embarked on a familiar journey, seeking insights from the experts on the front lines—college coaches. I designed a survey encompassing four pivotal questions and dispatched it to 50 Division I coaches, encompassing both men’s and women’s golf programs. Of the 41 coaches who responded, their candid insights shed light on the following:

1. “Do you believe there is cheating in college golf?” The response echoed uniformly in the affirmative.

2. “Do you have faith that reporting a transgression would initiate a proper and effective investigation?” A mere 32% expressed such faith.

3. “Should coaches who voice concerns live in fear of reprisals?” A staggering 20% admitted to such apprehensions.

4. “Do you believe your administration would provide support if you reported a fellow coach?” In this case, an overwhelming 85% retained faith in their administration’s support.

The existence of cheating within college sports should come as no shock. What truly raises eyebrows, however, is the stark reality that approximately two-thirds of college golf coaches harbor doubts that their concerns will receive the attention they merit when reported. Equally disconcerting is the revelation that 20% of these coaches live under the looming probability of potential retribution, while a nearly equivalent percentage questions the loyalty of their own administration.

While one hopes that young minds are being taught lessons of fairness, honesty and good faith on campus, the question is, what are they being taught beyond the walls of the ivory tower? The data shows, a different message which conflicts with the goals of higher education.

The core mission of higher education is to prepare the youth for the complexities of the world. The real world unfolds as a mosaic of impromptu games, demanding swift judgments and resolute decisions. How should one navigate the demands of a high-stress job? This is a difficult question to answer.

In the end, the stark truth about dishonesty within college sports reveals itself as a calculated strategy rather than an occassional exception. It is a disheartening reality, one that, regrettably, appears resistant to prompt resolution, particularly when the same coaches suggest that their administrations are ill-equipped to investigate. This harsh realization compels us to acknowledge that if such deception exists within the world of college golf, it likely runs rampant in the more revenue-laden sports. As sports enthusiasts, we are confronted with the unsettling fact that, in the relentless pursuit of victory, many within the realm of college athletics have chosen dishonesty as their favored tactic. Even more concerning, those tasked with oversight appear ill-prepared to enforce the rules. This is very unfortunate and something we all should try to address or at least be prepared for.