College Basketball is about to Face its Worst Nightmare
Dear LSU Basketball fans,
The suspension of Head Basketball Coach Will Wade is only the beginning and likely small potatoes to everyone in the sports of College Basketball.
Except for maybe you.
There are far bigger problems at play and your chanting for Wade just proves how completely ignorant and oblivious to the rest of the world you actually are.
The Rest of College Athletics
Yes, that's right, while Wade's supension is an "Inconvenience" for LSU, it's indicative of a really big problem about to come home to roost for some of the NCAA's biggest names and biggest schools.
College Basketball and to a lesser extent football has slowly over the past couple of decades become branches of the big Sneaker Companies.
Schools are now classified as Adidas, Nike or Under Armour Schools and those companies pay millions of dollars a year to various schools to wear their sneakers and athletic gear, millions that don't necessarily go towards a good cause.
This largely came to a head in 2017 and 2018 when word started coming out about an FBI/Federal investigation exposing College Basketball's seemingly unspoken underworld. It's a world where middlemen market players to various schools on behalf of agents and/or sneaker companies. And certain schools and/or coaches appear to be willing to fork over large amounts of money to secure players for their teams.
It's a little different in football where a majority of this level of impropriety comes from boosters, but in many ways it moves things to the next level.
The fact basketball has a thriving "Middleman" business should not come as a shock to anyone who's spent time around the game. I'm talking about people who become "Unofficial" representatives for star players and/or their families. They have ties to agents and often work on their behalf too, knowing or helping make sure the players---should they get to the NBA, are already locked in as clients.
The sneaker companies come in to play as the bankroll for many of these arrangements. The crux of the feds case against the game right now revolves largely around Adidas and some of their upper level management who allegedly helped their schools by paying for certain players.
It's a complicated scheme and one that's already played out in court to some extent. And it's already claimed the jobs of several College Assistant Coaches. It's now moving on to Head Coaches.
Will Wade had the misfortune of being a guy caught on tape trying to bid for the services of a player (Javonte Smart). Wade was caught complaining he made what he thought was a great offer for Smart only to find out Smart's middleman was playing for more money.
Wade is by no means the only one in trouble. Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller has been implicated too and based on his speech after the Wildcats final home game of the season, Miller may be thinking his time is up.
KVOA TV in Tuscon poses the question:
There are more involved. A lot more. Kansas Coach Bill Self could be caught up in the wash after he and one of his "Recruits"---Silvio De Sousa were implicated in the Adidas investigation.
Rumors abound that most every big name program with the highest profiles are directly or indirectly involved in the "Pay to Play" system and the investigation may claim some other coaches.
Now, before you get all high and mighty about "Everyone Does It" or the players should be paid (they should)---neither of those points matter.
The only thing that matters is paying the elite talent to steer them to a "Company" school is against the rules. Period. End of debate.
And if LSU has to forfeit their SEC Title in 2018 or Sean Miller or Bill Self get fired, you should have no sympathy and have no right to complain.
If College Athletics decides to or is forced to start playing athletes, it's one conversation. Until that happens, there is nothing else to debate.
Then there are the sneaker companies and agents and middlemen who are exploiting the kids for profit. All of them.
You may not even be aware of this--but sneaker companies largely control the game of basketball at the amateur levels. From AAU leagues, to sneaker sponsored Tournaments and Camps, that is what Basketball Players deal with to make it to College.
High School or Middle School coaches are rendered irrelevant in this system. It's the AAU Coach and what sneaker company sponsors the team which matters, it's the brand you stay with all the way up the ladder.
It's a big systemic issue that may already be too deeply rooted to get fixed.
Call me old school or a non-believer or just plain old, but Basketball should be about playing in High School or Little League without having to worry about which company sponsors it. Basketball should be about players and kids finding their way and working for success while not having to deal with adults looking to profit off of them.
Which at the end of the day is what this is all about. Technically the players can't make money until they turn pro. Today's system is set up so the Middlemen, the Sneaker Companies and the Schools profit or spend money knowing they'll make it back if said player becomes an NBA star.
And that's the whole crux of the problem.....