From the viewpoint provided from Curmudgeon Central the sports story of the moment must be the arrest of some assistant college basketball coaches and some execs with shoe companies and a few other miscellaneous folks on charges of bribery/fraud/stuff-like-that with regard to high school basketball players and where they might go to college. Here is a link to one of the online reports about the events involved.
Remember that I have not spent a day of my life in law school and that nothing that follows here ought to be considered as “informed commentary”. Nonetheless, a couple of things in this story do stand out to me:
- This FBI investigation has been ongoing for about 2 years. I think that is very important because even if everything alleged by the prosecutors in their public announcements can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, these charges do not represent a major threat to the establishment of justice or the assurance of domestic tranquility. [See the Preamble to the US Constitution.]
- The NCAA – an organization whose credibility and standing in the eyes of US sports depends on its ability to assure a level playing field for all its member teams – did not know about these alleged frauds and briberies in the past and did not even know about the FBI investigation for the past 2 years. Question: Exactly what do those super-sleuths in the NCAA offices do for a living?
- Allegedly, “money men” secretly funneled cash to high school players’ families to assure that the kid went to a school that was aligned with a specific shoe company. Other than possibly being a violation of the laws related to reportable income for Federal Income Tax purposes, I am not sure that whatever statute was violated here is all that important.
Once the NCAA was informed by the FBI as to what had been ongoing for years, the clueless-to-that point NCAA President, Mark Emmert, had this to say:
“The nature of the charges brought by the Federal Government are deeply disturbing. We have no tolerance whatsoever for this alleged behavior. Coaches hold a unique position of trust with student-athletes and their families and these bribery allegations, if true, suggest an extraordinary and despicable breech of that trust. We learned of these charges this morning and of course will support the ongoing criminal investigation.”
Let me translate that statement for you:
- Once again, the NCAA was clueless regarding a major violation of the rules that the NCAA itself created. It was asleep at the switch – if indeed this is an “extraordinary and despicable breach of trust” between NCAA coaches and student-athletes.
The investigation is not over; the prosecutors have set up a hot-line people can call to add more information and more individual situations to the overall case. In the end, the prosecutors will send someone or someones up the river for a couple of years; the NCAA will deflect focus on the fact that all this was going on under its collective nose for about a decade or so; college basketball will continue to be the dominant sports story in March of every year; shoe companies will recoil in horror and then find new ways to do essentially the same thing a couple of years from now. Most importantly, now that these miscreants will have faced justice, the nation’s long national nightmare will come to an end. Or something like that…
Speaking of recruiting high school athletes to particular colleges, Brad Rock has this comment in the Deseret News recently regarding the decision by ESPN to hold its College Game Day telecast in NYC as opposed to some venue around the country where there might actually be a real NCAA football game:
“Analysts say this could greatly boost recruiting for Julliard’s football team.”
In another story related to college basketball, the reigning champion UNC basketball team will not be visiting the White House for the typical ceremonial time with the President. At this particular moment when sports news has such an overlap with political news, I am sure that lots of folks will find significance in their absence. Here in Curmudgeon Central the basis for this inability to pay a visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC is pretty simple:
- The UNC student-athletes cannot possibly afford the time away from their classes and their study time and their term-paper preparations to go somewhere other than to play a basketball game. There are, after all, only 168 hours in a week…
In another college sports story that resonates well here in Curmudgeon Central, it turns out that Nebraska paid Northern Illinois $820K to come to Lincoln, NE to play the Cornhuskers in an early-season non-conference game. Nothing to see there; big-time schools do that every year. The problem in this case is that Northern Illinois did more than show up for the game; Northern Illinois won that game 21-17. So, it would appear as if the “sacrificial lamb” here was having nothing to do with being slaughtered and chose to ram the “executioner” in the goolies of his nether region prior to exiting the slaughter pen with the $820K in the bank. Good for the sacrificial lamb…
Finally, I need to change the subject away from the above before I get totally depressed for the day by the disrepute of college sports. Here is a keen observation by Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian Pilot regarding the return of Maria Sharapova to the pro tennis scene:
“Noise pollution: There’s no danger of me watching Sharapova’s scream queen matches, at least not with the sound on. The Shrieking Violet is as loud as ever. It recalls something the late actor Peter Ustinov said about Monica Seles at Wimbledon in the early ’90s: ‘I’d hate to be next door to her on her wedding night.’”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………