One Shining Moment is One Unmitigated Disaster for college basketball

Updated February 23, 2018 - 11:21 pm

Begin here: Do you know that part about death being the solution to all problems? It really can’t apply, although you can bet there are some within college basketball who wouldn’t mind causing great bodily harm to certain folks right now.

One Shining Moment is One Unmitigated Disaster.

It wasn’t the end in September, when the FBI and U.S. attorney arrested 10 individuals in connection with fraud and corruption schemes. It wasn’t the end Friday, when a Yahoo Sports report identified players from more than 20 Division I programs possibly breaking NCAA rules through violations that were uncovered by the FBI’s investigation.

It will never totally end.

This thing is a monster, and we haven’t even scratched the surface of how ferocious its teeth are.

But we do know ESPN reported late Friday that Arizona coach Sean Miller was caught on an FBI wiretap with agent Christian Dawkins discussing payment of $100,000 to ensure the signing of now Wildcats freshman star Deandre Ayton.

It hasn’t scratched the surface, even as the big dogs continue to fall.

So if the best we can hope for is some sort of fix that might better streamline the college game back into a reality of less misconduct, where the deception and breaking of rules don’t reach such profound and innumerable levels, well, good luck discovering it.

Everyone involved is in it for their own selfish reasons, and both odds and history suggest they won’t budge near enough to make any kind of significant difference.

The report from Yahoo centered on two agents (Andy Miller and Dawkins) and one agency (ASM Sports), on paperwork of cash advances and things such as entertainment and travel expenses for prospects and their families. It included a handful of documents of potential evidence.

Do you know how much more there is? Dozens upon dozens of agents across the country fight for top players year after year in the hopes that by throwing them money and gifts now, all will be repaid when it comes time for the kid to be drafted and sign with representation.

There must be thousands upon thousands of documents, because the FBI when proving such claims kills more trees than root disease.

Just from what we have learned thus far, you can be certain that any high school prospect over the past several years who has shown even the slightest ability of having NBA potential has been offered money.

The agents don’t want a solution. Not a real one.

The NCAA says it does but continues to hide behind the hypocritical guise of amateurism, which ceased from existing in major college athletics decades ago. Many have long supported the idea of paying college athletes, which has more than a shred of merit. Kids who play the game that generate billions of dollars in revenue deserve a slice of such a pie.

It also could lead to schools going broke.

The minute you decide to pay male athletes, expect Title IX attorneys to be at your doorstep demanding the same wages for those in women’s sports, expect your tax exempt status to disappear, expect to face issues such as worker’s comp and benefits for your newfound employees. It’s not so easy to simply begin writing football and basketball players checks.

Do you want to allow a free-for-all and have players strike deals with agents, who then in turn might want power over things such as playing time for their clients? And even if agents stop paying players for future services, boosters probably won’t for present ones.

Most believe the best solution is disbanding the one-and-done rule. Maybe. But the NBA doesn’t care about the NCAA. The NBA wants more developed and prepared players. Maybe it improves the G League as a more desirable option for prep recruits or adopts a tiered minor league system such as the one in Europe. That could perhaps work.

But is it enough of a fix to limit the gross level of corruption? Of course not.

Think about it. Who leaked documents to Yahoo at this point in a season?

The FBI, unhappy with the NCAA’s slow response to those initial arrests and upset most schools essentially didn’t blink when the investigation first surfaced publicly?

The NCAA, wanting to confront and move past the chaos for fear it will seep into its largest and most lucrative event in the NCAA Tournament, hoping to deal with any discipline now and not retroactively following the madness?

More importantly, does it matter?

What is the solution?

Simple: Find one entity in this entire mess that isn’t in it for itself so that a significant difference might be made.

Good luck with that.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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