Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Business of Basketball, part 2

So we are left with the NCAA. I think that it's pretty apparent to everyone that people like T.J. Gassnola are out to screw our kids and our high schools in return for some power and success. But in the end, as long as parents see him getting their kids signing on the dotted line and helping buy them a few nice things along the way, who are they to argue with the system. Besides, if you can make money, who needs education right?

Well I think that for all intensive purposes, the NCAA has its hands tied when it comes to dealing with people like Gassnola. He is not giving gifts in order to get kids to come to a certain college and who's to say that someone out in the world can't give you money. Plus, the NCAA is already obtaining a reputation for overreaching too much. Just look at Oklahoma's Rhett Bomar. While getting paid money to do a nothing job seems in line for rules violations, there are more than a few whispers out there that maybe we shouldn't tell these kids that they have to live in a bubble and never talk or do anything but study, practice, and play.

The problem is that the culprit in that situation wasn't Bomar, it was the auto dealership. But we can't punish them. All of this is to say that NCAA compliance officers have enough cases on their desk to be worrying about what high school kids are doing.

During the summer, I heard the suggestion of levying policy against coaches who recruit from certain leagues, coaches, sponsors, what have you. One Davidson coach suggested that NCAA coaches shouldn't be able to recruit at these money-tinged summer tournaments. That was quickly rebuffed by the observation that those tournaments are great timesavers for small schools with limited budgets and manpower.

The other approach, or lack of approach, is to do nothing. Where no laws exist, no crimes are committed. It's a free country and if parents and kids choose to go with the sketchy guys who pull them off their high school teams, then that's their problem. Because for so many Americans, especially minorities, basketball is the way out. Basketball can get you the money to get out. Education doesn't even factor into the equation.

This is where we are left with William C. Rhoden's new book: Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Black Athlete. The post on that one might be long in coming, I have enough books to read already.

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