Northern Wyoming News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

Hear me out...A super bold prediction on what happens next with college basketball


April 7, 2018

The college basketball season came to an end on Monday with the Villanova Wildcats raising the trophy. I for one was happy that ‘Nova won, not because of the “At least we lost to the champs” defense but that their 18 3-pointers against my Kansas Jayhawks were not for nothing. And to be honest, I’m still shell-shocked from that loss.

18 3-pointers in one game.

The Jayhawks scored nearly 80 points and lost.

I started getting worried around the seventh and eighth Wildcat 3. Not so much that they were going in but how they were made. Each shot wasn’t even drawing rim and they were all violently snapping the net. Still, I talked myself into believing the second half would be different, ‘Nova would regress to the mean and Kansas had a run in them. But deep down I knew it was over after the first half.

But enough complaining, what’s done is done, on to the point of this column.

After the confetti fell, ‘Nova had their parade and all the other good feelings that come at the end of the season, it’s time to talk about what most of us have been trying to ignore over the past few months. That being the FBI’s corruption probe involving college basketball.

If you’re unfamiliar with the probe here are the basics of it, I hope you’re sitting down for this, shoe company executives and agents are being accused of steering top-ranked players to big-time programs for a payday.

Duh, duh, duuuuuuuuhhhh

Honestly not shocking by any stretch of the imagination.

Well, that is unless you’re NCAA President Mark Emmert. Here’s what he said in February when it Yahoo! Sports reported that over 20 programs have possibly broken NCAA rules as part of what was uncovered during the FBI probe.

“These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America. Simply put, people who engage in this kind of behavior have no place in college sports. They are an affront to all those who play by the rules.”

To borrow from comedian Adam Carolla, Emmert is either stupid or a liar. Unless you’re Brendan Fraser in “Blast from the Past” or “Encino Man,” agents and shoe companies trying to push top players to top programs for a payday is not shocking. It would be more surprising if it didn’t happen.

With all the money flying around the sport and rules preventing players from capitalizing on their talent, the NCAA created this black market monster. Hell, the schools have long-term exclusive contracts with Adidas, Nike and Under Armour. Again, it’s no bombshell that when a potential NBA pick goes to Kansas (Adidas) or Duke (Nike) they’re almost guaranteed to sign a shoe deal with the company that sponsors their college.

Emmert is a fool if he’s clutching his pearls at the notion that agents, who work in a highly competitive field, are willingly doing whatever they can, legally or illegally, to gets these players signed. This has been happening for years and years and not just in basketball but football as well.

What’s hilarious though is, in response, Emmert setup a task force headed by former Sectary of State Condoleezza Rice to snuff out the allegations brought up from the FBI probe. The task force will only focus on basketball, not football because that, well that would unearth even more mindboggling discoveries that college football has a corruption problem too.

How hard did Rice laugh when Emmert asked her to investigate this? I’d like to know how much she’s being paid too because any amount over $1 is comical.

Once the dust settles from the FBI probe and Rice’s committee, there will be a lot of placating and harshly worded statements but, ultimately, nothing of impact will be done to curb this behavior or dismantle the self-created black market.

Emmert will talk tough, blame the one-and-done rule (if he does this he’s a moron, there have been plenty of scandals before that rule was implemented in both basketball and football, which does not have the rule) and continue to throw on a cape for not paying the players, but as for trying to fix this mess he’s not going to upset the status quo. It’s going to cost him too much money if he tried to.

The best and fastest way to clean out the NCAA’s black market is to pay the players. If the players were paid, the FBI is investigating nothing. Here’s what Randall Eliason, a law professor at George Washington University said to the Washington Post;

“If you take away the NCAA rules, there’s no criminal case here,” said Randall Eliason, a former federal prosecutor and law professor at George Washington University. “There are some legitimate questions about whether this was a wise use of resources.”

The common argument against paying the players is, what about the smaller schools that don’t have the money to compete with the bigger programs? My response to that is, how is that different from what we have now? All the top players go to big programs or teams in the power conferences anyways and no matter what the NCAA does or how many rules they create, they’re never going to eliminate this behavior without paying the players.

Plus if we’re openly paying players, there’s no need to railroad some of these kids for trying to better theirs and their family’s financial standing.

Emmert and his cronies are wasting time on solutions that don’t involve financial compensation to their skilled workforce. They can scream all they want about “amateurism,” but they’re just wasting oxygen. By the way, if they’re concerned about the purity of their amateurism tag, why not go all the way with it and get rid of those commercial timeouts. I believe most of us would gladly take that tradeoff because by the end of the tournament I’m tired of hearing cheery jingle for the Lowes ads.

Who am I kidding, Emmert is never going to let go of that money willingly. He and his PR people will think of lame excuse after lame excuse as for why they shouldn’t, like last week Emmert said, and I am paraphrasing, that if they paid the athletes, schools would have to cut programs.

Which again I ask, is Emmert stupid or a liar? Because schools have been cutting programs under the current system, this year Eastern Michigan cut wrestling, men’s swimming and diving, softball and women’s tennis.

It’s answers like that that show how dishonest Emmert and the NCAA are about paying players. Rather than being forthright and just saying they don’t want to split the money, they create these weak excuses not to. And it’s funny that so many think there are major changes coming because of this scandal. A big name coach or two might go down but mostly it’s going to be assistant coaches and names of no impact taking the fall.

And after their tough talk, Emmert and his gang will form a prayer circle and ask The Almighty that we all forget about this mess as soon as possible.

So there it is, my big bold prediction that, not a damn thing will change.


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