Are the Feds Really About to Drop the Hammer on College Basketball?
The breathless reporting has already kicked into full gear. ESPN on Tuesday, Yahoo Sports on Wednesday. Both saying an investigation by the Federal Government has uncovered evidence that may change the face of College Basketball forever.
But will it?
I guess that remains to be seen, but I have my doubts....
Why? Because I don't for a minute believe the NCAA isn't or hasn't been aware of the corruption and influence of the Sneaker Companies and agents. They'd truly have to be ignorant and slow to not know this whole subculture existed and has been growing.
These issues all bubbled up in September of 2017 when 10 people---including Assistant Coaches and Adidas Sneaker Company reps--were indicted and in some cases arrested on fraud and bribery charges.
Mind you--those indictments which eventually led to the firing of Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino and Athletic Director Tom Jurich along with the suspension of multiple other coaches--were only for probable cause based on wire taps, phone recordings and written info. It did not include most of the information found in the investigation.
ESPN's Mark Schlabach and Pete Thamel of Yahoo both quote sources as saying there are many, many more "High Profile" programs and coaches involved.
Again--the question I have is this: Is this a surprise?
The thought of sneaker companies paying for players to go to properly aligned schools is and should not be a shock to anyone following the growth of the game.
Think about it. High School basketball on an elite level is no longer the priority for most kids. They want to be on the AAU circuit or at Sneaker Company camps.
And often those AAU or "Traveling" teams are either sponsored by or beholden to specific sneaker companies. It's a high stakes--battle royale to get one of those players to commit to "Your" team and that basically keeps them in "Your" stable.
What this does is limit the influence of the High School coach.
Anyone who thinks this doesn't happen is plain naive. You can be a "Decent" high school player and get some--albeit limited attention from College Scouts. But if you are a top tier player, the high school performance is almost irrelevant.
If you look up basketball camps---You can find the "Nike Exposure Camp" or "The IMG Academy Basketball Camp" or a slew of others promising access to only the best High School Coaches.
And there has been a sub-culture of "Middle-Men" in College Hoops for years. Guys who recruit for both coaches and for sneaker companies along with agents.
Really I hope the Feds DO drop the hammer and blow up the sport. It's become such a "Big" Business for corporations and agents and sleazy middlemen that it no longer is a "Thing" for a decent athlete who just wants to play on a good team.
They've already exposed a brief portion of the seedy underworld just by the allegations Adidas and others paid families to get kids to their own schools. And yes, I do believe those allegations are really the "Tip of the Iceberg".
But in today's world--business interests and money often buys a way out of trouble. My fear is that if this actually threatens "High Profile" coaches and schools--the NCAA will find a way out of this because they don't want their power structure disrupted.
I could be wrong....oh, and I should add--College Football works much the same way too, I'll be really curious to see if this touches on that sport too.