One in the same: amateurism and college basketball

By KYLE MCDANIEL

The black cloud is descending on men’s college basketball, and it is merely the beginning.

When the FBI released its findings Sept. 26 announcing the arrests of multiple college basketball assistant coaches, the world seemed to stop.

When Emanuel “Book” Richardson from the University of Arizona was named as one of the coaches arrested, you could feel the worry and panic in the city. College basketball is a source of pride for Tucsonans, who every year count down the days until the season begins.

Knowing the FBI took three years to investigate the bribery scheme does not bode well for Richardson, as he faces up to 60 years in prison and a substantial fine.

When the FBI announced charges against the assistants, they said they will seek the harshest penalties possible in an effort to get them to turn on their employers.

We can only hope Sean Miller knew little or nothing about what was going on. However, with what happened in Louisville with basketball head coach Rick Pitino, it seems difficult to believe he knew nothing. You could tell at a recent press conference, meant to clarify what was taking place that Miller was uncomfortable.

“We didn’t gain any information from it and puts a huge stain on college basketball … with the underbelly of college basketball really starting to show itself,” said Justin Spears, Arizona Daily Star sports writer.

In the United States, we take sports quite seriously. That includes college basketball. To improve the sport, the NBA and NCAA instituted a rule where before going pro players must attend college for at least one year, or they must be one year removed from high school.

This was meant to help young men when deciding their future. Certain prospects will be “one and done,” but a recruit who thought he was ready for the NBA in high school might decide to stay in school for an extra year or two.

The root of this whole argument begins with one question: Should college athletes be paid?

To a certain degree, they should, because schools make millions off them, and they prevent athletes from having a job. Plus, schools actually pay for teams they feel they can beat to come play at their home stadium.

According to the Washington Post, UNLV paid Liberty $600,000 to play a football game at UNLV. Now where will all that money go? To help upgrade the football facilities.

As the NCAA has argued in previous lawsuits, the athletes don’t know the true value of their education. A player that knows he is using the school as a quick one-year stop isn’t worried about education.

In fact, a top recruit, who chose to go to Western Kentucky for this upcoming season, abruptly cleaned out his locker and left campus. His reasoning behind the decision was he wanted to prepare for the NBA draft, according to SBnation.

Now, the NCAA has felt that something of this nature was taking place, but never had the power to go all out. According to USA Today, the FBI began taking a look, thanks to a cooperating witness, who was once a financial adviser involved. Once they started investigating, it became clear that college basketball was the equivalent to minor league baseball, only without legal forms of pay.

The dots were easy to connect. Adidas sponsors Louisville, and they want top recruits to attend the school. They then get a middleman/coach to help facilitate the money, in this case $100,000 to the recruit, who in turn committed to Louisville. This deal is also in place to have the player sign with the company once he turns pro.

The FBI only has hit the tip of the iceberg in this case. As Spears said: “Give it a few years, and we will know a lot more.”

This rings true as we will have multiple trials, more arrests, appeals and people turning state’s witness to help get lighter punishment.

I don’t feel that Coach Pitino is the only big name involved with this, nor do I think Arizona and Louisville are the only big schools involved.

Money changes people, and it’s almost always negatively. Everyone involved, including AAU, colleges and the sportswear companies, needs to look in the mirror. Sure, they might feel they are helping the player, yet they are truly hurting them until we can find a happy medium.

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