NCAA rules aren't working
March Madness is upon us and the sport of college basketball will once again take center stage. A single elimination tournament will determine the national basketball champion.
The tourney is a cash cow generating $700 million in revenue, $220 million of which is doled out to the 32 participating conferences. Individual school success is rewarded with a Final Four appearance netting even more money for universities.
However, this year, a dark cloud hangs over the competition: an FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball. A series of FBI wiretaps have revealed a systematic and widespread violation of NCAA rules. According to leaked information, some of basketball's perennial powers have been implicated: Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State and Louisville head the list. The government probe is focusing on the role played by head coaches, their assistants, players and agents.
High-profile coaches are under intense pressure to win in order to justify their highly lucrative salaries. Thirty coaches make more than $1 million per year with Duke's Mike Krzyzewski heading the list at $9.5 million. With that kind of money hanging in the balance, recruiting violations are possible. FBI tapes are rumored to have caught Arizona coach Sean Miller discussion a $100,000 payment with a high school recruit.
The alleged Miller situation seems to be the exception rather than the rule. In most instances, any illegal activity is perpetrated by assistant coaches. An assistant coach's job is to bring in the talent that makes the university program great. In many incidents, they are the bag man — intermediaries in an illicit and unethical transaction — a conduit for under the table payments.
The role of player agents in regard to recruiting violations can't be overstated. Well-documented cases have revealed agents paying players and their families in the hope of representing the athlete in future contract negotiations.
Finally, the player's alleged violations run the gamut from five-figure payouts to the nit-picky failure of an athlete to pick up a check at P.F. Chang's. One thing for certain has emerged from the probe: the current NCAA rules are a farce and aren't working.
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