While the FBI’s charges of bribery and fraud are concerning, I am not at all shocked. In fact, I hope this leads to much-needed reform of college basketball – and why not all of college athletics, while we’re at it? Overlooked in this story is the fact that universities, cable TV networks (and, yes, shoe companies) are literally making billions of dollars off the labor of unpaid “student-athletes.”
College athletics is big business, undeniably. It’s all about the money now, the quaint idea of a “student-athlete” be damned. We shouldn’t be so shocked at the flow of money as we are that none of it flows to those who deserve it most: the athletes. It’s time to stop this farce once and for all.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced early Tuesday that charges of fraud and corruption have been brought against four current college basketball assistant coaches — namely Arizona’s Emanuel “Book” Richardson, Auburn’s Chuck Person, Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans and USC’s Tony Bland. Managers, financial advisers and representatives of a major sportswear company have also been charged with federal crimes in a scandal that has rocked the sport.”
The picture of college basketball painted by the charges is not a pretty one,” Joon H. Kim, the acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference. “Coaches at some of the nation’s top programs taking cash bribes, managers and advisers circling blue-chip prospects like coyotes, and employees of a global sportswear company funneling cash to families of high school recruits. … For the 10 charged men, the madness of college basketball went well beyond the Big Dance in March. Month after month, the defendants exploited the hoop dreams of student-athletes around the country, allegedly treating them as little more than opportunities to enrich themselves through bribery and fraud schemes.”