As you may have already heard, the FBI probe into corruption has now unearthed federal documents detailing NCAA violations from some of the biggest names in college basketball.
Spreadsheets that were seized from ASM Sports, the agency of former NBA agent Andy Miller, reveal payments to former and active players and it includes programs like North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State and Texas to highlight a few.
.@YahooSports exclusive: Federal documents taken from ASM Sports in hoops corruption case reveal extensive potential NCAA violations. Docs show some of the biggest stars and programs in the sport, including more than 20 schools and 25 players. https://t.co/N6zcAD3IRY
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) February 23, 2018
This shouldn’t shock anyone. College basketball will always be a sport rampant with corruption and NCAA violations while the NCAA selectively chooses when to look away and when to bring down the hammer (UNC’s decades of academic fraud going unpunished).
Compared to other sports, basketball is a different beast in terms of shady characters and a large part of that is due to the AAU circuit and influence of shoe companies. Nowadays, if you’re recruiting a highly-ranked prospect, you’re going to deal with unsavory characters who are lifelong “family friends” or “handlers.”
Coming out of that sewer unscathed relies solely on what becomes public knowledge and what the NCAA decides to do. If you’re a darling like UNC with academic fraud and renting cars for players or Duke where a player dropped $30,000 cash on jewelry and got a $68,000 loan, the NCAA might ignore you. If you’re not liked or you’re a small school, you’re done.
But that’s not the point of all of this, people. It’s that the NCAA, the schools and even fans pretend that these are “student athletes” and everyone just goes along with it. Meanwhile, you’ll get tutors doing work for players, bogus grades and favoritism, maybe even give a parent a job at a booster’s company (Chris Duhon), drive around in nice cars and everyone ignores it because we like sports. It’s more important to win than have any integrity.
It should go without saying that this isn’t universal. There’s legit players in this sport but there’s an epidemic of the alternative as well. There’s also legit student athletes outside basketball who busts their hump to balance school and athletics while earning their grades and not getting the luxurious treatment and that’s admirable.
However, in the era of one-and-done, college basketball has become a joke. Not only is it just a terrible product in terms of the game and the officiating, the rent-a-player nonsense is destroying the game and to pretend these are student athletes is an insult to our intelligence. But we still play along.
We do this all the way to March and then hope one of these players will rally our teams to a deep NCAA Tournament run. We sit through the NCAA’s sponsors ads and the organization’s own “student athletes” commercial.
Meanwhile, we emotionally invest in this charade perpetuated by adults and some of these players who pretend to be “students” when in actuality, they’re really hired guns for our bragging rights and for our schools’ finances.
Let’s look in the mirror and cut the BS and be honest about reality. A lot of these players don’t want to be in school but feel obligated to show up on campus for about seven months to enjoy the perks, the multi-million dollar training facilities and coaching before they’re eligible for the NBA Draft.
They don’t belong in college and they don’t want to be in college. They belong in the NBA G-League, which should be the real minor league for the NBA instead of what NCAA basketball is, which is a free minor league system for them. The NBA has the power to change that but the NCAA doesn’t have to play along with them, making a further joke of their product.
Even ignoring the corruption and lack of values that overwhelms college basketball, why do we as fans participate in it? How do you have an emotional connection with a player who is barely on campus? As a Kentuckian, watching this circus at Kentucky has grown tiresome. It’s prevalent at Duke as well but it has bastardized the game.
That’s an argument from a purist standpoint but just as a human being and someone who worked their butt off to earn their degree and is now responsible to pay off student loans, it’s a little hard to cheer for those who are treated like gods, given bogus grades/degrees and cash and vehicles under the table. It’s also a little hard to cheer for the industry that enables it.