Systematic failure

Sean Miller reportedly offered $100,000 to current Arizona Wildcat DeAndre Ayton during the recruiting process. Now, I know what you’re thinking. What a cheater!

The report comes from sources involved in the ongoing FBI investigation into NCAA basketball on the heels of the Rick Pitino firing. You may remember, Pitino was linked to another investigation involving Adidas reps providing multiple coaches at various programs cash to strike deals with recruits.

So, yeah, these blokes are big ol’ fat cheaters.

But the real issue here happens way before any of these coaches sit down with high school superstars and/or their families and drop duffle bags like mob bosses. As NCAA president Mark Emmert put it, “These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America.”

Mr. Emmert, you are absolutely right, my friend. Ironically, though, you are the root of the issues within the system.

The NCAA is screwed up because the NCAA screwed it up. Emmert has always been the source of the league’s problems because of his refusal to let go of the term “amateurism.” It would be all fine and swell if he and his cronies had a strong passion for providing worthwhile educations to young athletes, but this guy just loves making money.

Now, the NBA is to blame some, as well. Putting an age limit on players entering the draft is ridiculous. These owners pay billions of dollars to own these franchises and build teams to win titles. If they think they can do it with an 18-year-old, why stop them?

And if these 18-year-olds would rather start their careers without college degrees, earning millions of dollars for themselves and their families, why stop them?

If a high school kid popped into The Sheridan Press with a portfolio full of journalistic reports he or she had written, breaking some huge case or even simply displaying solid reporting work, I don’t think I’d hesitate to hire that student — although they won’t quite make $2.4 million. Why should the NBA be any different?

But here’s where it gets really obnoxious. Two years ago, the NCAA signed an extension with CBS/Turner to broadcast the tournament through 2032. It was an $8.8 billion — with a “B” — extension. And that’s just for the tournament.

The NCAA will make $1 billion next month as basketball junkies watch DeAndre Ayton — and similar players — dunk all over their television sets. Next year, Ayton will pull into the Phoenix Suns’ player parking lot in a Porsche he bought with his signing bonus check.

$100,000 for DeAndre Ayton is a heck of a deal for Miller and the University of Arizona.

Michigan State’s Miles Bridges, a Player of the Year candidate, delayed the NBA and came back to school for his sophomore season because he really wanted to win a championship with the Spartans. He was investigated because his mom received a $40 dinner. That’s a real story, I swear.

At this point, the argument that these players get free educations is tough to make. This isn’t about what they’re getting, it’s about worth.

The system is completely flawed. The players know their worth, or at least understand they’re worth more than some tuition and cafeteria food. It’s called leverage. “Hey, Duke promised me $40,000 to play for them. You make it $50,000 and I’ll sign with you today.”

Any agent or businessman will tell you that’s actually pretty dang smart investing and practice of business.

Not Duke! The almighty Krzyzewski would never do that! Sorry folks, they all do it. They have to. It’s the only way to compete in a league that’s set up for only the wealthiest to achieve success.

These kids aren’t being recruited to go to class and get good grades. Many of them do. That’s great. But the ones bringing in the money were recruited just to do that: play hoops and make lots and lots of money while doing it. That’s a business, not “amateurism.”

I will never fault Sean Miller for doing what the rest of his colleagues are doing and have done for decades — although, he should have had some equipment manager or something do the actual dirty work. And I certainly won’t begrudge grown man DeAndre Ayton for accepting a lucrative offer presented to him, especially when he’s worth about 30 times as much.

The NCAA needs to stop pretending to be something it’s not. That’s the real issue. The failure — and fixes — lies in the hands of the system.

By |February 28th, 2018|

About the Author:

Mike moved to Sheridan from Indianapolis, Indiana. Family and his passion for sports brought Mike to the Cowboy State, where he began working as the sports editor for the Sheridan Press in June of 2014.

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