Wait just a minute. What did I just hear? A major scandal involving college basketball? Money being funneled through coaches, agents, shoe companies, money managers to recruits?
Who would have ever expected something like this?
Well, only those with even a passive interest in college sports. Folks, college basketball has been dirty for decades and I think by now just about everybody is aware of that. But with the news of this scandal today I think we're going to hear more about it that ever before. This time it's not some soft NCAA investigation into a rogue program, it's an FBI probe three years old covering the gamut -- from shoe companies to the players. People are going to go to prison before this is finished.
It's about time somebody looked into this mess.
I have been in the business of following sports and writing about them for a long time and I have to go back at least 30 years to remember the first time I heard a story about illegal inducements being paid for a university to obtain a high school basketball player. Since then, there has been story on top of story. Former college coaches laugh about them over dinner and drinks. Why didn't I write about them? There was never proof. I didn't want to get sued -- and these guys have learned to cover their tracks pretty well. The NCAA has never seemed serious about putting a stop to it.
The first story I heard was about a well-known player who was recruited by a college entirely without contact with that player's high school coach. Which seemed crazy. But what happened was the player's AAU coach and personal workout coach was the one in contact with the colleges. He brokered the deal. That coach eventually hand delivered the player to a college and guess what?
That AAU coach soon showed up as a paid counselor/coach at the college's summer camp for kids -- at a rumored salary of $10,000 a week, which was way above the going rate for such things.
I've heard stories of players getting cars, money being passed through the hands of girlfriends or relatives and even brown paper bags full of cash being left for players at a secret location.
It's a nasty business that turned me off to college basketball -- even college sports in general -- years ago. And now, perhaps, there might be a chance to dive into the cess pool and see what can be done about the problems.