College basketball’s crisis moment -- unmasked this week by the FBI, no less -- elicits a swirl of reaction. So let’s get to it.
When I authored “Glory Hounds,” the 2016 look at the stories behind Gonzaga basketball, I made mention of an annual study conducted by an assistant professor of finance at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus (trust me, that’s the correct institution; I looked it up).
The professor assesses the valuation of college basketball programs, much as Forbes Magazine does in its annual list of pro sports franchises. Probably largely due to a rabid local fan base that creates off-the-charts TV ratings, Louisville was No. 1 in 2016, worth $301.3 million.
I described professor Ryan Brewer’s work as determining what college hoops programs “would be worth if they could be bought and sold like pro franchises.”
Who knew, until this week, that Louisville was already running a pro franchise?
-- I can’t imagine how the NCAA enforcement staff is going to be able to stay atop what just mushroomed into an incredible workload. The FBI named or implicated about seven programs this week, and hinted that more would be coming. Now think back to how long some NCAA investigations have taken -- Miami, USC (Reggie Bush), North Carolina. How’s this possibly going to work without a massive increase in staff at the NCAA?
-- In the twilight of their respective careers, Joe Paterno and Rick Pitino were regarded as masters of their profession. As if we needed another reason that sports figures shouldn’t be deified, we have another one.
-- Among the four programs whose assistants were arrested, the head coach whose name, by association, surprised me the most was Sean Miller. Just sayin’.
-- Imagine trying to recruit cleanly against the force of a six-figure payout to a prospect -- and, apart from the FBI finding, I wouldn't risk any judgment on who might be clean and who isn’t.
-- Gee, that show-cause penalty incurred by Bruce Pearl at Tennessee really turned him around, didn’t it?
-- I don’t see how paying players would prevent such abuses. All it would do is bump up the black market.
-- It’s debatable what role the one-and-done rule has in this, if any. Perhaps it’s too easy to hammer the NBA and its reluctance to deal with that restriction (and it is the NBA, not the NCAA). But if you had a baseball-style, sign-or-stay-for-three-years (or two) rule in place, at least there might not be such a wanton eagerness to compensate prospects illicitly -- the return on the investment would take a while, as opposed to the seven-month blow-by that one-and-done players fulfill in college.
-- Among Pac-12 schools, USC, if it’s convicted of a major NCAA violation, would take the lead all-time in the conference in that category. It’s currently tied with UCLA with six. Cheat On, uh, Fight On.
-- Maybe it’s just a conditioned reflex, but I don’t see Louisville getting the death penalty over this, although it surely appears to check the boxes. That Southern Methodist shutdown in the mid-‘80s stands as the only time the guillotine has been wielded, and it came after a long history of the football Mustangs flouting the rules. On the other hand, if the NCAA wants to make a statement . . .
-- For a long run of tawdry, oily college athletics sleaze, has anybody done it lately quite like Louisville?