It would be nice if college basketball could move past the cheating that unnecessarily taints the game, but if the construct of the committee empaneled but the NCAA to study and correct corruption is any indicator, it will never happen.
NCAA president Mark Emmert announced the formation of the 14-person committee yesterday, and it lacks one very important component – the presence of those who have corrupted the game.
If you want to catch a crook, you need to employ one. The FBI became very good at catching forgers when it hired Frank Abignale, one of the world’s best forgers.
Good and decent people don’t think like thieves. They can’t understand the whys of corruption, and so they are the worst candidates to fix it. Those who circumvent and break rules to accomplish their goals – both in basketball and finance – must be a part of identifying and fixing the issues facing college basketball.
One issue that must be addressed by the committee is that very few people are complaining about the way college basketball currently works. Yes, shoe companies who invest millions in universities pay the families of players to steer them to programs. Yes, coaches take money from agents to steer players to agents. Yes, parents of players sell the services of their children to the highest bidder. Yes, school officials turn a blind eye to corruption as long as seats are filled, TV ratings are good, and application rates are through the roof.
All of it’s true, and it has been for 30+ years. And who is complaining? Coaches from underfunded mid-majors who can’t compete for recruits because their pockets are empty. Other than that, crickets.
Fans still show up, buy swag, and cheer for their alma mater.
This committee of do-gooders will recommend solutions to what only a very few people understand as a problem. The pious and well-intentioned gang of 14 will meet for hours and days and weeks, recommend rule changes, and then disband. University presidents will water down their reforms, and business will continue as usual because business as usual working just fine.
Schools are not going to forego the shoe company cash. Conferences will continue to welcome media money. Coaches will continue to comprise the most overpaid profession in the history of global commerce. Contributions to student-athletes will continue to be comparatively paltry.
The guys with the money will continue to protect their fiefdom because reform will put in question their wealth, and no one does the right thing if it costs them money.
Emmert, who is paid nearly $2,000,000 per year to run the NCAA, understands that as well as anyone.
And so the committee will provide nothing of consequence minus an answer by Emmert to the question, “What are you doing to clean up college basketball?”
That’s all Emmert needs in order to keep his job and his wealth.
Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-7p, and writes about Indiana sports at kentsterling.com.