The Problem with College Basketball is the NCAA

By Mychal Hunter

I woke up in a foul mood this morning. My participation in Sober October is surely a contributing factor, of that I have zero doubt. Add to that I work in the housing industry, building apartment complexes for a millennial generation that generally annoys the fucking shit out of me, and the normal stresses of constructing a $30MM housing facility makes me a very inhospitable Irishman.

I am a huge podcast person, I never listen to traditional, politically correct, radio anymore. The canned responses and tip toeing through people’s feelings bugs the shit out of me. We have lost the ability to be real as a society and can’t say what we think due to the masses coming for us and crucifying us until we submit to their will. It’s as if the entire country suffers from Stockholm syndrome.

The target of my annoyance this morning is the NCAA, the governing body of the sport that I love, Men’s College Basketball. All of the podcasts that I listen to as well as the journalists I follow on twitter have been neck deep in the ongoing FBI investigation keeping us non-insiders plugged in to what is going on and how far this scandal spans. Which, even though it is a somewhat tiring story, it’s still better than reading which underwear Lavar Ball happens to be wearing today or whatever horseshit ESPN is “reporting” on. One thing that I am sure of at this point, the problem with men’s college basketball is the NCAA.

If you visit the NCAA’s official page you will find this under the Division 1 Governance tab:

Division I Governance

Division I recently redesigned its governing system to create a structure that is more nimble and streamlined and to be more responsive to membership needs.

Members adopt bylaws governing Division I through two legislative processes. These two systems are referred to as Autonomy and Council Governance.

Both processes includes input from presidents and chancellors, directors of athletics, athletics administrators, coaches, faculty representatives, conference personnel and student-athletes from Division I schools and conferences. NCAA committees populated by membership personnel conduct the division’s day-to-day business and establish strategic direction for the future. The membership receives assistance in this regard from staff at the NCAA national office.

Division I’s committee structure oversees everything from championships administration and sport oversight to strategic planning and the overall health of Division I.

The student-athlete voice is an important component of the Division I governance structure. Two members of the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee participate and vote in meetings of the Division I Council, the division’s primary policy-making body. The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee also has a voting student-athlete on each of the seven standing committees of the Council. Students also participate actively in the autonomy governance structure. Conferences choose 15 student-athletes to be part of the 80 votes cast on autonomy legislation.

Many of these potential regulations – as well as proposals to change existing policies – develop within the committee governance structure throughout the year, while other legislative measures are submitted by member conferences.

Proposals (either by a committee or through the membership) must be submitted to the national office by Sept. 1. Division I members may comment on proposed legislation for 60 days. There is an amendment time period between Nov. 1 and Nov. 15. The entire Division I membership receives official notice on all proposals and amendments by Dec. 1. The membership still may comment on proposals and amendments from this time until voting. The autonomy structure votes on its proposed legislative slate at a business session. The Council governance structure votes on its proposed legislative slate during its April meeting. 

All of these bylaws and regulations are published annually in the NCAA Division I Manual, which is the division’s official governing rulebook.

As my man George Carlin once said about the church and the invisible man in the sky, that is what we call being stunningly full of shit. To make up a governing organization that is owned and operated by the members that benefit from it’s incompetence is setting it up to fail. We are watching this failure unfold before our eyes in separate instances with the Adidas recruiting scandal that is being led by the FBI and the UNC Academic Fraud investigation that is being run by the NCAA.

The statement above leads with a proud point of restructuring to be more nimble and streamlined to deal with problems and members needs. The one question I have is, how streamlined and nimble has the UNC investigation been? It seems fairly cut and dry to me. UNC steered athletes to classes that didn’t exist to complete work that wasn’t assigned to keep them eligible and focused on what matters. Winning basketball games. How fucking hard is that to figure out? The fact that normal students were also involved in those classes is a separate matter.

The tipping point for me just recently. Last week, the NCAA committee was scheduled to release the case against UNC, when at the last second they had to reschedule due to a scheduling conflict with UNC officials who were announcing a huge (5yr $4.25 billion) fundraising campaign. Apparently, the NCAA had failed to provide the proper notice to the university. Why do these school officials need to be present? Why can’t their attorneys accept the report in their stead? Why does an organization that is supposed to be sanctioning a program care about such things? You know why? Because they aren’t going to be punished.

Also of note, UNC is on the verge of signing one of their best recruiting classes in recent memory with verbal commitments from 4 star guards Rechon Black and Coby White, as well as 5 star combo forward Nassir Little who committed last week. Little told recruiting experts he is not worried about potential sanctions impacting his college experience. What does that say? It says Roy already knows his program is in the clear and he is telling the recruits as much.

The NCAA has predictably drug their feet in this case FOR YEARS as UNC continues to make Final Fours and win championships and recruit without any restriction for one reason, money. According to Colt Kesselring at Hero Sports, in 2017, each NCAA tournament game that a team participated in earned $1.7MM that is equally distributed among it’s conference mates over the following six years. So, in the past two years (if the $ was the same in 2016), UNC alone, has earned roughly $17MM to be distributed to the teams of the ACC. That’s roughly $190,000 annually to each program. That is just from the Tar Heels. The ACC had 8 teams in the tournament last year. You think those programs don’t love that? The programs that make up the organization that is supposed to be governing things like academic fraud to keep athletes eligible?

The most fascinating thing about this FBI investigation is that a lot of the dirty laundry is finally coming to the forefront. As a Georgia Tech fan, I have witnessed for the last 3-5 years how the fan base has yearned for an apparel contract with someone other than Russell Athletic. The number one reason? To help with recruiting. Is that solely because those individuals believe kids are driven by the logo on their uniforms? Maybe partly, but the real reason is that AAU sponsorship’s drive recruiting, probably more than any other consideration. Is it any coincidence that RJ Barrett, the #1 player in the 2018 recruiting class, has a final three that is all Nike schools? Fuck no it isn’t. Everyone knows this is going on and we have all known for years, including the NCAA, and nobody has done a thing about it because everyone is making vulgar amounts of money. Well, almost everyone, the kids that actually provide the product on the court are still basically disposable batteries.

This is a real test of character for the NCAA. What will it do with the evidence provided by the FBI? Will it be willing to properly punish some of it’s biggest money making programs like Arizona and Louisville, in a way that will impact it’s own bottom line? Will this scandal spawn a change in the way the sport is governed? Will the NCAA de-certify certain AAU camps and shoe company sponsored events?

My guess is, no it will not. When the FBI concludes it’s investigation and accomplishes whatever goals it has in mind and vacates the world of college athletics, it will be business as usual. Coaches and shoe executives have already changed up the way they are cheating and while it may be minimal at this particular point given the current state of things, it is only because they saw some others being hauled off in handcuffs. The NCAA doesn’t to do that, the FBI does that because they don’t have any skin in this game and they don’t care who you are, they are there to stop the corruption. But, they are not a permanent fixture in the enforcement of the NCAA’s rules. They will depart soon enough and like a fart in the wind, soon be forgotten.

I’m obviously no investigative journalist. I am just a guy with a website who doesn’t feel like spouting my craziness 140 characters at a time. So I am sure that some of the things stated above are probably not letter of the law, probably some conjecture, but it is a summary. It’s boiled down into the simplest form. Which is what it should be anyways. Simple. You cheat, you pay.  What makes me angry is the corruption is so clear and the problem is so well known, yet we all know nothing will be done about it, because the people that are supposed to be enforcing the rules are the same people that benefit from breaking them.

In a few weeks the games will start and we can all be happy with what happens on the court while we wait for the NCAA to fuck that up too.

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