College Basketball Enters '17-18 Season With FBI Probe Hanging Over Sport
An "ominous cloud hangs over" college basketball as the '17-18 season begins Friday due to the FBI's ongoing probe into corruption inside the sport, according to Shannon Ryan of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. People involved with the sport long have "allowed the radiance of the game ... to blind us a bit." Ryan: "This year, we can't hide from reality." It is hoped that the scandal will "change college basketball." Some coaches have "privately cheered the indictments, hoping the scandal might clean up things and level the playing field between the cheaters and those who recruit within the rules." However, it is "hard to imagine this not being the dominant storyline of the season" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/6). The AP's John Marshall noted the arrests of 10 people, including assistant coaches at four prominent schools, "casts a shadow over the sport heading" into this season -- and "likely beyond." Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak: "It's a big egg on a lot of our faces. It kind of speaks for the entire entity, and we're part of it" (AP, 11/8). USA TODAY's Dan Wolken wrote from now until the end of the season, what "becomes of college basketball is far more important than anything that happens in college basketball." Trying to "separate the sport from the sport’s problems will seem, for now, anyway, like an apologist’s doomed mission." The FBI "brought the reality of big-time college basketball from the shadows into the headlines," which "isn’t going to go away or even fade into the background." Corruption is on college basketball’s "front porch, and it’s going to stay there all season long" (USATODAY.com, 11/9).
WELCOME TO THE NEW NORMAL: ESPN.com's Andrea Adelson writes chaos has "replaced any semblance of normalcy" at the start of the season, and that has "turned the focus from tipoff to scandal." This should be a "joyous time, filled with optimism and fun-filled debates." However, it is "impossible to ignore what looms over the sport -- starting with the ongoing FBI investigation that is certain to change the sport itself." Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said, "This has been a significant issue in college basketball, and a significant distraction. ... There's uncertainty in the air with a lot of our coaches and people around college basketball. The NCAA encouraged schools to do whatever self-investigations they can, so that when the season starts it starts with schools having the opportunity to clear those up. The objective is, once the first tipoff happens, we're focused on basketball." But Adelson asks, "Is that remotely possible?" There is a mood of "uncertainty, frustration and trepidation, far from the excitement that should be there right now." College basketball "cannot just go back to business as usual, hoping the actual games will make the problems disappear" (ESPN.com, 11/10).
WHAT WILL THE COMMISSION DO? In N.Y., Zach Braziller noted the Commission on College Basketball was "formed in the wake of the allegations and arrests." The 14-member committee is headed by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and includes Basketball HOFer David Robinson and former coaches John Thompson III and Mike Montgomery. The commission will "focus on the influence of non-scholastic third parties and shoe companies, the NBA’s one-and-done rule that forces prospects to go to college for one year and the presence of agents and financial advisors in the sport." It will "release its findings in April." Braziller: "For now, that’s all that has been done, or the NCAA is willing to do" (NYPOST.com, 11/4). In Louisiana, John Marcase wrote the NCAA responded to the FBI's findings by "forming yet another meaningless" committee. While the committee includes former college and athletic administrators, coaches and military officers, it "doesn't include" any current or recent players. Marcase: "None of the people who actually know where the bodies are buried, so to speak, are on this committee" (THETOWNTALK.com, 11/7).
LIST OF SUGGESTIONS: ESPN's Jay Bilas writes there should be a "healthy overhaul of the deeply flawed and troubled NCAA and its antiquated and overly complicated rule book." He suggests college basketball "needs a commissioner" as well as a "new rule book." Meanwhile, the adjudication system needs to be "reformed" and D-1 basketball "must contract." The NCAA could also help by exiting the "eligibility business" and "dump amateurism" (ESPN.com, 11/9). In Salt Lake City, Kurt Kragthorpe wrote college basketball "is broken," and "fixing it will take some bold moves." He suggests making "freshman ineligible" and stopping the "flow of transfers" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 11/9).