The Washington Post reports this morning that the NCAA's "death penalty" is dead -- thanks to what it did to SMU, which hasn't been to a bowl game since 1984 and is a woeful 1-4 this season. Coach Phil Bennett, who is 17-42 during his six years on the Hilltop, describes the punishment as "the Scarlet 'D'" that still horse-collars the Mustangs 20 years after the punishment was handed down: "Nobody knew the devastation the death penalty would do to this program." Writes The Post's Eric Prisbell:
Since SMU received the punishment, 29 programs in various sports have been eligible for the death penalty -- meaning two sets of major NCAA rules violations occurred at a school within a five-year period -- according to an NCAA database. All were spared. And because of the long-lasting effect on SMU, some observers familiar with NCAA investigations question whether the penalty ever will be imposed again.
In other words: Sorry, SMU. Our bad. --Robert Wilonsky