Kansas's Problems Could be the Beginning of Massive NCAA Change but it Likely Won't Happen
Does anyone really believe the NCAA is going to drop the "Hammer" on Kansas or Head Basketball Coach Bill Self despite allegations of "Lack of Institutional Control" or various misdeeds in coordination with Adidas?
Nah, me neither. Which is a crying ass shame.
After years upon years of everyone not associated with NCAA Investigations knowing the big sneaker companies (Adidas, Nike, Under Armor) now own the paths for most elite athletes in Basketball, there is a legit opportunity to put a stop to it.
On the heels of the Federal Investigation against the apparel makers and coaches who relied on them to help fund prized recruits, the NCAA dropped their own charges against the Jayhawks. And on an "Intellectual" reporting level--the breathless reporting about the seriousness of the allegations is important and necessary.
But the NCAA has a longstanding reputation of not going particularly hard against the bigger Power 5 programs. They could have gotten North Carolina by the balls a couple years ago--but the Tar Heels, despite a rather lengthy list of academic misconduct charges got off with a slap on the wrist.
It's a somewhat different issue for smaller programs who seem to get destroyed by pretty much any misconduct--but that's another story for another day.
And as much as I'd like to see Self and Kansas pay the piper for trying to buy elite basketball players---really the target here should be the Apparel/Sneaker companies.
Really they are the back end of a system we're currently under where in basketball, they (sneaker companies) now control the pipeline for basketball players. If you are a High School athlete not playing in one of the "Big 3 Companies" Summer League, you aren't going to a Kansas or well, any other College Basketball power.
Sneaker companies are dropping millions upon millions to the upper level teams to have their logos show up on National TV on the best of the best basketball players.
Yeah, sure, there's a certain cache to playing at Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Kansas or Kentucky but there are plenty of schools who could take an elite player and run with him. Why shouldn't an elite player go wherever they want and take a team in need of a star to the highest levels of the game?
The NCAA, thanks to the FBI Investigation has a path to punish the Sneaker Companies using them as "Boosters/Donors" because they are paying for access to the programs. And the same way it's illegal for a Booster/Donor to pay off a kid for coming to their school of choice, those rules should apply to Sneaker Companies. Which would make the payoffs totally illegal and subject the schools involved to serious penalties.
I do believe the NCAA wants to clean up the games and the behind the scenes operations---I just don't believe they have the balls to actually do it. It's not easy to walk away from millions upon millions of dollars the Adidas, Nike, Under Armor triumvirate throw at the schools and following through would probably cause that to happen.
The NCAA or its member schools rarely walk away from money.
Sneaker Companies should not be allowed to control the Summer Leagues either--which is harder for the NCAA to enforce. It's one thing to provide gear for participants it's another thing to basically indenture the kids to their product and guide them towards only schools they sponsor. If you don't believe this happens and kids go through a high school program where that coach helps guide them to the next level---you watch too many movies. High School Basketball Coaches have little to no influence and the Sneaker Companies have gained a "Foothold" on them too.
College Football is different, it operates a bit differently and has it's own set of "Dirty Little Secrets" but with the amount of people involved---it's a little harder to pin down.
At the end of the day---the most common denominator in the graft and skirting of the rules in College Athletics trace back to the rise in power of the Sneaker Companies---it wasn't a thing 20-30 years ago where they were dropping $10+ million "Apparel Agreements" with schools. But it's the world we live in now and based on the Federal Investigation and lots of whispers anyone who follows the game has heard, it needs to stop.
But someone has to be willing to step up to the plate and make it happen.......
The ball is in your court NCAA.