Latest college basketball scandals call for wholesale changes

    Reports implicating top Division I programs and athletes put damper on March Madness

    More stories from Scott Procter


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    The team name “Win or Lose” was designated to remind the members that winning isn’t everything

    March wouldn’t be synonymous with madness if it wasn’t for college basketball. Similarly, college basketball wouldn’t be what we know it is today without scandal — and lots of it.

    With the field of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament to be decided on Sunday, a new report detailing a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) probe into recruiting scandals may make things even more interesting.

    Some of the sport’s most prominent programs and former and current talents have been linked to the FBI’s investigation into corruption, according to a Yahoo! Sports report. The documents obtained chronicle the expense reports of well-known former NBA agent Andy Miller, his former associate Christian Dawkins and his agency, ASM sports.

    The documents viewed by Yahoo! Sports are from a year-long probe in which federal authorities monitored multiple targets and intercepted more than 4,000 calls over 330 days. This detailed investigation has helped provide a clear view of the underground economy and current state of NCAA basketball.

    The expenditures and balance sheets included in the report list cash advances as well as entertainment and travel expenses for high school and college prospects and their families. At least 20 Division I basketball programs and more than 25 players are tied to Miller, ASM and activity that may violate the NCAA’s amateurism rules.

    The players, or family members of the players in some cases, are listed as receiving impermissible benefits ranging from meals to more than $40,000 in loans, according to the report.

    Teams listed as giving impermissible benefits and preferential treatment for players and families include high-profile institutions such as Duke, North Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, Michigan State and more. The documents also link some of the sport’s biggest current stars to specific potential extra benefits: Michigan State’s Miles Bridges, Alabama’s Collin Sexton and Duke’s Wendell Carter.

    NCAA President Mark Emmert responded to the new reports in a very generic way, one that the organization often does when issues of recruiting scandals come up.

    “With these latest allegations, it’s clear this work is more important now than ever,’’ Emmert said regarding the Yahoo report. “The board and I are completely committed to making transformational changes to the game and ensuring all involved in college basketball do so with integrity.’’

    But the question begs: What is the NCAA going to do about these recurring incidents?

    The short answer is probably nothing. Corruption and scandal run so rampant in college basketball that if nothing has already been put in place to curb it, it’s unlikely further investigation by the NCAA or the FBI could help. What has been done in the past to prevent the illegal payment of players has not worked and until Emmert and the NCAA come up with a unique solution, not much will change.

    If Emmert is “completely committed to making transformational changes to the game” like he says he is, it’s time to start legally compensating high-profile players according to their worth.

    While there are plenty of NCAA Division I athletes who are lesser-known and are fully content with a full scholarship in return for their contribution to their university athletically, there are many other athletes who live a different reality.

    Players like Bridges and Sexton generate more revenue, attract much more attention and simply deserve to be compensated for being the best at their sport. The best actors, singers or artists of the same age are free to acquire the wealth they deserve because they don’t have an organization like the NCAA checking athletes’ pockets while theirs swell.

    These high-profile athletes deserve different because they are different. Players are becoming more and more aware of their worth and a revolution may ensue if the NCAA doesn’t change.

    Lavar Ball, with his creation of the Junior Basketball Association, which provides an alternative to college-aged athletes where they can get paid, may be a genius after all.