Last Word On Basketball

Analyzing the Recent NCAA Scandal

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 09: Head Coach Rick Pitino of the Louisville Cardinals directs his team against the Duke Blue Devils during the quarterfinals of the ACC Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 9, 2017 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

Scandal after scandal. Money. Exotic dancers. Clothing. Endorsements. Fake classes. These are just the tip of the iceberg in the recent NCAA scandal investigations. Men’s college basketball has been a point of focus over the past few weeks as assistant coaches have been arrested, head coaches fired, and major companies funneling cash to recruits. This, plus the long-standing notion that college recruits are typically on the take anyhow, does not help the NCAA’s image. Two notable decisions are final in the cases against the University of Louisville and the University of North Carolina. Both universities had charges brought against them; one escaped while the other did not.

Analyzing the Recent NCAA Scandal

Late in September, news broke that ten people involved with the NCAA University athletic program were going to be charged with fraud and corruption. Namely, Chuck Person of Auburn, Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State, Emanuel Richardson of Arizona, and Tony Bland of USC, among others. They were charged with bribery and corruption that tie into directing college athletes to certain agents, apparel companies, and financial advisors.

Adidas Tie-In

Along with the news of these staff member arrests and charges, the major company that tied all of this together, Adidas, was dragged into the light. The FBI arrested James Gatto, the global sports marketing director for Adidas. This high-profile arrest was accompanied by many others including Adidas employees, sports agents, financial advisors, and even AAU program directors. The investigation has been ongoing since 2013, yet the NCAA was only informed of it when the arrests were made.

University of Louisville Involvement

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino was placed on administrative leave after the news that newly signed recruit Brian Bowen was funneled $100,000 to sign. The FBI complaint against Gatto made note of these allegations. Pitino’s involvement in the entire NCAA scandal is prominent and he was irrefutably in the wrong for his actions at the university. Pitino has loudly denied all allegations, claiming he knew nothing of the charges. Pitino, however, has had a troubled history at Louisville, marked by a scandal involving dancers and possibly prostitution for recruits, as well as his own personal headline-making affair in 2009.

Louisville’s Punishment and What Lies Ahead

Louisville officially fired Pitino, as the first consequence of this series of scandals. Pitino’s was just a formality brought on by the language in his contract. His firing added on to the ruling this summer that the university is vacating wins from 2010 through 2014 as well as scholarships for the next four years. However, the ruling also to take away the 2013 National Championship taken away, which may now become a real possibility as this second scandal has hit the Cardinals. Some have called for the school to be banned from the NCAA for good, but that is excessive and outrageous. There are several issues with what happened, but Louisville’s basketball program cannot receive a harsher punishment than the Penn State football scandal led to in 2011. No, the penalty for this specific bribe must be harsh but reasonable. The future for the Louisville Cardinals looks bleak and could end the prominence of the basketball team.

Escaping Punishment

The University of North Carolina put itself into the ring of scandals recently. UNC was charged with committing academic fraud by creating fake classes for athletes for nearly two decades. Though these classes obviously benefitted athletes who had trouble with their GPA, the ruling states that the classes weren’t exclusively for athletes, eliminating any consequences for UNC. In other words, since the classes were available to any student, the NCAA will not punish the university.

The ruling is baffling. Simply put, this loophole should be overlooked for integrity’s sake. Other universities have been punished for fraudulent testing, grades, and academic records, but not UNC? If the school found itself guilty of a true infraction, the 2005 National Championship and the 2017 National Championship could have been at stake. The players in those years surely benefited from enrolling in these automatic passing classes to boost their GPAs. However, the university claims that these classes met their requirements. The idea that student-athletes benefitted from easy classes is not the responsibility of the NCAA but the school itself.

Possible Solutions to End These NCAA Scandals

The issue of paying collegiate athletes has long been discussed but never seriously entertained. If the NCAA and the universities profit off of the hard work and performance of these young athletes, then why is it so taboo to pay the athletes? Look at the many conference-specific sports networks and see how lucrative those cable contracts are. If the NCAA would pay athletes a set amount of money without negotiating or complex contracts, far fewer under-the-table payments would be made. If anything, the most recent NCAA scandal shows fans that players now know their worth. These coaches will seemingly stop at nothing to ensure that their program will succeed, which proves just how valuable elite college athletes can be.


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