The world of college sports was rocked this morning when the NCAA revealed the results of a potentially landscape altering probe that could result in the most widespread extra benefits scandal to ever hit the organization. The organization’s investigation has uncovered evidence of student-athletes participating in so-called “Secret Santa” exchanges, many taking the form of what the NCAA is calling “White Elephant exchanges” which serve to in effect launder these gifts and help cover the tracks of the giver, and could have even more dangerous implications involving hazing.
“Our investigation into this elaborate extra benefits scandal has revealed the involvement of at least 350 collegiate athletics programs from all divisions across our organization,” said NCAA chief investigator Bob Humbugh. “The evidence gathered so far dates back to these ‘Secret Santa’ parties in the early 1980’s, and when we complete our probe we expect to find that, sadly, this behavior has been taking place over the years and decades leading up to that jumping off point.”
The report indicates that in these Secret Santa exchanges, players in various athletics programs purchase and supply illegal gifts to one another, ranging from clothing to electronics in most cases. According to the the official NCAA rules and regulations, an athlete cannot accept gifts from people within the athletics department, yet evidence continues to mount that this very thing has been taking place at colleges and universities across the nation.
Even more disturbing are the White Elephant exchanges, which provide added benefits to more seasoned members of these teams. In these exchanges, it is not only acceptable but fully encouraged for the team’s juniors and seniors to take whatever gifts they want from the younger members of the team, which the NCAA believes could also be defined as hazing. In one instance, a source that wished to remain anonymous said that when he was a freshman on his university’s lacrosse team, he was instructed to wear a less than aesthetically pleasing sweater and sing a Christmas carol in front of the rest of the team at a private gathering at the coach’s home.
This is indeed a troubling report, as it suggests that not only are these impermissible gifts being exchanged and hazing rituals taking place, but the coaching staffs of at least some of these college programs are complicit in this rampant illegal behavior.
The NCAA, meanwhile, has seized many of these extra benefit gifts as evidence for later penalty rulings, with swift and harsh punishment expected once the probe has been completed.
“These gifts cannot remain in the hands of these student-athletes, as this behavior is simply something we cannot, and will not, encourage,” said Humbugh. “Now if you’ll excuse me, we liberated an XBox One from a basketball player from Boston College, and my game is paused. Totally unrelated to this, you can purchase a replica of that young man’s jersey at many fine retailers for a low cost of just $85, with all proceeds going to our completely nonprofit organization.”
The Boston College student-athlete could not be reached for comment, as his prepaid cellular phone was out of minutes.