The FBI uncovered the dark side of recruiting in college basketball.
The corruption scheme began with the investigation and charging of financial advisor Louis Martin Blazer III, it has led to 10 people, including four college basketball assistant coaches, being arrested and charged with corruption and fraud in a bribery scheme to recruit players to their respective universities.
The four coaches arrested included Auburn’s Chuck Person, Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans, Arizona’s Emmanuel Richardson and the University of Southern California’s (USC) Tony Bland.
The investigation has also revealed that adidas and the Louisville men’s basketball program worked together to pay five-star recruit Brian Bowen approximately $100,000 to get him to attend the school, as well as ensure that he would sign with adidas once he went pro, according to ESPN.
The investigation cited Louisville’s hall of fame head coach Rick Pitino as “Coach 2,” meaning he personally made calls to adidas head of global marketing James Gatto, who was also involved in the scheme. It is expected that Pitino had his hand in the payment of Bowen to get him to attend Louisville.
Pitino has since been placed on administrative leave, along with Louisville’s athletic director Tom Jurich.
The Basketball Hall of Fame has already said that if Pitino is guilty of what is in the FBI investigation, he will be removed.
The FBI stated that its investigation is still ongoing, and that more teams and schools could be involved in the corruption scheme.
The NCAA, which prides itself on the integrity of amateurism, has been backed into a corner.
Not only will there be hefty suspensions that will need to be given out to multiple major programs, but the NCAA will have to answer to that age-old question: Why not just pay student-athletes?
The battle for student-athlete compensation has been well documented, with now-turned pro athletes advocating that they deserve to be paid.
The NCAA has already got in trouble for using player’s likeness back in 2009 when former UCLA star Ed O’Bannon sued for not receiving adequate compensation for the use of his image in broadcast and video games.
O’Bannon v. NCAA, is a big reason to why there are no longer any video games centered around college athletes.
This year, the NCAA gave University of Central Florida kicker Donald De La Haye the choice to play football or continue his YouTube channel that he received compensation for running. The NCAA claimed De La Haye was using his image as a student-athlete to make money.
Choosing between two of his passions, De La Haye chose to keep his YouTube account and was ruled ineligible by the NCAA.
Now, there are logistics to paying student-athletes.
One can argue that receiving a scholarship to attend school is good enough compensation.
However, in a lawsuit filed by against the University of North Carolina, it was estimated that student-athletes spent in between 30 to 45 hours a week at practice for their respective teams, according to Business Insider.
That is the equivalent of working a full-time job while handling a full course load. And if a non-athlete can hold a full-time job while attending classes, then why can’t schools justify paying their student-athletes for their “job”?
On top of that, the NCAA and its universities make millions of dollars off their sports teams.
Out of the top 25 schools in terms of revenue generated from collegiate sports, just one was below the $100-million- threshold. Texas A&M, which clocked in at number one according to Business Insider, made $192.6 million off its sports teams last year.
To take it a step further, the Wall Street Journal estimated that the Ohio State University football program is worth an astounding $1.5 billion. The study found that two other football programs, Texas and Oklahoma, also are worth more than a billion dollars.
Now, not every school has programs of this magnitude, which brings another obstacle to the discussion.
If you’re going to pay student-athletes, do they all get paid equally?
Can the school and the NCAA justify paying an Ohio State football player the same amount of money as a Division III track star?
I believe this question is the biggest obstacle in this battle.
And even if the compensation was determined by school, how can one justify paying teams worth billions of dollars the same as the rest?
This is a no-win situation for the NCAA.
Whether everyone is paid equally, or if it is based on the revenue generated solely by the team you are on, someone is going to feel cheated.
However, as much as these schools and the NCAA itself profit from tickets sales to television deals, it’s hard to continue to claim that student-athletes shouldn’t receive a dime.
And now the latest scandal in college basketball showed that if there is a way to get money to these athletes, coaches, financial advisors and companies, they are willing to risk it all to do so.
There is such an upside to having control over where these young athletes decide to play.
The coaches and advisors involved in this scandal knew that they could control not only where the recruits were playing, but the brands and companies they signed with once they went pro, as well as the agency they chose to represent them.
Once players go pro, the university they attended goes with them.
In every professional league, when players are drafted, they are always announced with the school they attended.
In addition to this, players from all sports constantly give back to schools the attended and they become the most recognizable members of the school’s history.
In the case of Brian Bowen, a hall of fame coach and one of the top shoe and athletic apparel brands in the country, were willing to risk their jobs, their image and the possibility of going to jail to control the future of a talented young man.
Their $100,000 investment would have made them millionaires if Bowen went to the NBA. Instead, Bowen is likely to be ruled ineligible by the NCAA and forced to play his collegiate years overseas, while those who orchestrated this scheme could be heading to jail for up to 100 years for the charges filed against them.
There are people realizing the profitability of student-athletes and are taking advantage of it, so why can’t student-athletes benefit from their own talents?
Whether you’re for the payment of student-athletes or not, I would like to leave you with this:
Student-athletes possess rare talents that not everyone has. What this scandal has showed me is that whether student-athletes are being paid illegally or not, they are losing out.
They can choose to go to a school, give everything for a program and have more money than we can imagine be brought into the school and the NCAA, but they’ll never see any of it. And unless they are one of the select few who make it professionally, they will never see the monetary benefit of their talent the way their school and the NCAA did.
And for players who decide to be involved with this corruption and the illegal transferring of money to benefit themselves and their families?
Their “decisions” on where to go to school, where to sign endorsement deals and more are no longer their decisions. It’s up to the people who invested in them and told them what school to choose because of who sponsors it. These athletes are now held hostage to the decisions of these advisors for the rest of their careers.
It is an unfortunate reality, that so many people can benefit from college athletes other than the athletes themselves.
The FBI unlocked the door of college sports we all knew was there, but pretended like it didn’t exist. Now it’s up to the NCAA to repair it.