In late September of last year, a federal investigation rocked the college basketball world. The probe revealed that several of the nation’s top programs were negotiating with Adidas and ASM Sports to bribe top recruits to sign with their school.
On Friday, the NCAA received even worse news with the publishing of a Yahoo Sports article written by Pat Forde and Pete Thamel. The report uncovered some of the biggest names and programs in college basketball, revealing that they each had at least one player (present or past) that received some sort of payment from NBA agent Andy Miller and Christian Dawkins, who worked for ASM.
Schools like Duke, Seton Hall, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Michigan State made the list, along with some of the NBA’s top talent. Players like Dennis Smith Jr., Kyle Kuzma, and Markelle Fultz reportedly all received payments.
The best part about these findings, though, is that not a single person who follows college sports is surprised. Chris Webber, Marcus Camby, O.J. Mayo, and many more are guilty of taking money in college, but does anyone blame them?
The NCAA has no one to blame but themselves. Listen to President Mark Emmert speak in any setting. He continually uses the word “amateurism”. Amateurism is the idea of not receiving any material reward for taking part in sport and, while this idea may have worked back in the day, it can no longer be used as an excuse to not pay athletes.
The NCAA has no problem making billions of dollars from the NCAA Tournament in which these so called “amateurs” participate. God forbid a player gets his dinner paid for — that’s just not allowed, and flat out wrong according to them.
So, how can the NCAA fix this? Here are some ways to make sure something like this never happens again.
1. Pay The Players
These players bring in millions for their respective universities. Yes, some of that money goes toward athletics. But it also funds the development of the campus, including new dormitories, academic buildings, and anything else the university desires.
Sure, you will always have people arguing that these athletes are getting a free education and that should be sufficient. But, this past October the NCAA showed their true stance on the education of their so-called “student-athletes”.
The organization failed to punish North Carolina for placing their athletes in classes that required little-to-no attendance and minimal work. Not even the professors listed to teach these courses knew that they existed.
I understand that figuring out a way to pay all scholarship athletes will be difficult (i.e. the compensation of a basketball player compared to, say, a swimmer). But in a world where head coaches are signing multi-million dollar deals, there should be plenty of money to go around.
2. Get Rid Of The One-And-Done Rule
In 2005, the NBA and the players union agreed that a player is not eligible for the NBA draft until they are 19-years-old, and the “one-and-done rule” was born. This rule, quite frankly, has ruined college basketball and needs to be changed immediately.
One alternative to this rule can be seen in the MLB Draft. A baseball player (even if he is committed to a college) can be drafted out of high school. But, if he decides to forgo signing a professional contract, he cannot be eligible for the draft again until after his junior (or redshirt sophomore) season has started.
The NBA can adopt something similar to this. This rule would act as a natural filter — allowing NBA-ready players to make money in the pros, while guys who are not quite ready can showcase their skills in college, with hopes of being drafted two years later.
3. Update The Rulebook
After all is said and done and the NCAA hands out punishments, it’s time they dive into their rulebook and take a hard look at some rules.
In the investigation, Wendall Carter Jr. of Duke and Miles Bridges of Michigan State were listed on the spreadsheet for having their families receive a meal paid for them. According to the NCAA rulebook, this is a violation under the “receiving improper benefits” section.
This rule needs to be changed right away. What is so wrong about having a meal paid for by a booster? Regular graduates can be wined-and-dined by potential employers, so why can’t athletes?
4. Eliminate Head Coaches Signing Multi-Million Dollar Deals
Look, I’m not saying these coaches shouldn’t be generously compensated for the work they do. However, coaching contracts have gotten out of control. According to USA Today, there were 40 head coaches that made the 2017 NCAA Tournament who earned over $1 million in 2017.
There are no guarantees with head coaches, no matter how many years are on their contract. Winning is always the best way to job security. With this pressure of winning and building a powerhouse year after year, you need to recruit the best players in the country.
University of Arizona head coach Sean Miller was heard on a wiretap discussing a payment of $100,000 to then 5-star recruit DeAndre Ayton. Ayton went on to sign with Arizona and now Sean Miller’s career as a basketball coach is all but over.
Head coaches do tremendous work for their programs. But, we need to stop putting this added pressure on them where one losing season could cost them their job. It’s a vicious cycle, the pressure leads to the desperation of coaches to land as many top recruits in any way possible.
The NCAA can easily fix all of this. Pay the athletes, they make you millions every year. And, stop acting like college football is squeaky clean and that none of this happens elsewhere.