• by: Phil Cantor/@osgphil

College Basketball's Dirty Little Secrets are Coming Out in Court


Anyone who thinks College Athletics is an "Amateur" thing needs to go back to the 1950's, the world has changed and there is a ton of money being tossed around, sometimes in ways you'd never imagine.

This week a trial has gotten under way in New York City which for those who follow such things is exposing College Basketball's sneaker related "Seamy Underbelly".

Those of us who've covered the game and have some idea of its inner workings know well the Nike's, Adidas's and Under Armor's of the world have taken over the roots of basketball making everything about staying "On Brand" and doing whatever it takes for that to happen.

You might remember in 2017 a rather lengthy indictment was handed down implicating for starters a man name James Gatto who worked for Addidas and was busted for among other things, making sure highly recruited then High Schooler Brian Bowen landed at the University of Louisville.

Among those dragged down in the Federal Indictment included then Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino who eventually lost his job when word came out he knew Bowen got $100,000 to make his way to the Cardinals...

There were multiple schools---including some of the highest profile teams in the land, Kansas and others who were named in the Indictment which claimed all or most were involved in a variation of a pay to play scheme.

The whole thing has re-emerged as the trial began with, well, a bit of a bombshell....

Again, for those of you still unsure of what I'm talking about---here's a little back story....

Basketball is corrupt. It is very, very corrupt and has been for more than one generation, it just keeps getting worse.

The game has been over run with Agents, Sneaker Reps, Middle Men and others who've taken over and have their hands in pretty much any top recruit who shows out while in High School.

There was a time and era where High School Coaches were the primary conduit for College Recruiters to get access to players--that day is long gone. As is the era of High School Basketball being the primary attraction for coaches and others.

Used to be a player would go to camp somewhere some coaches or recruiters would attend and if they stood out, would get revisited during the season. (This actually did happen to me in the early 1980's, I'm old)...

Now these kids are getting noticed at tournaments and traveling teams. If a kid doesn't sign up and play for a traveling team, the chances of landing a scholarship are pretty slim. Travel Squad coaches are now the point people for most kids and those coaches aren't bound to the rules of a High School Athletic Association or the NCAA.

No, they're beholden to---yup, the sneaker companies. Nike, Adidas and others all "Sponsor" teams and until recently tournaments made up of teams they sponsor. Not so coincidentally, they also pay College Teams big money to wear their gear.

Which is why none of you should be surprised players who are on travel teams sponsored by a particular company tend to end up at College's who are sponsored by the exact same company.

Shocker!

Over the years, competition for these athletes has gotten more and more competitive with what appears to be a lot of money changing hands.

The trial in Manhattan promises a lot of fireworks for those of us interested in such things. We're about to find out just how much control those "Sneaker" companies have over the game...

Oh, and in case you are wondering, there is a similar system in College Football. It's not quite as pronounced or overt---but it is there. However its the one time College Basketball is ahead of its profitable football brethren as Football relies more on TV revenue.....

Keep your eyes peeled to the Sports Pages folks, there's a lot more to come here...

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