Over the weekend, the first domino of many fell in the world of college basketball. The FBI released wiretaps of Sean Miller discussing payment of $100,000 to ensure star Deandre Ayton would sign with the Arizona Wildcats. Ayton has been an absolute monster this season and looks to be a top 5 draft pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Sean Miller did not coach Arizona in their game on Saturday.
Another report released on Friday by Yahoo Sports’ Pat Forde and Pete Thamel showed that this is just the beginning. This report revealed how federal investigators have uncovered evidence connecting at least 20 Division I basketball programs and more than 25 players receiving illegal benefits. This all begs the question of is anyone safe?
Just last week, Louisville had to vacate their 2013 National Championship banner for wrongdoings. The amount of players and programs listed in all of these allegations is pretty, pretty, pretty extensive. How will the NCAA go about even beginning to hand out punishments for these wrongdoings? Will this put a black cloud over the greatest tournament in sports come March? Will we need a squad led by Shane Falco to replace these players next season?
These are some of the biggest programs in college basketball that will be served severe punishments. The question is how deep will these punishments run? Once this investigation is over and the dust has settled will the NCAA do any investigations on their own? Will the programs who consistently land top recruits be looked into? Coaches like John Calipari has made his career off the one and done era. He has a history of shadiness, it will be interesting to see if coaches such as him will be looked at under a microscope.
I am not exactly sure what can be done to punish a group of people and programs who did what everyone else was doing. This all reminds me too much of the steroid era in baseball. An era where the mantra “if you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin'” is the only way to compete. These programs are the first ones to actually get caught, they will forever be looked at through a different lens. Think about it, Barry Bonds is still looked at through a steroid user spectrum while Alex Rodriguez has been able to accept network broadcasting jobs.
In the long run, I think this all blowing up will help the NCAA. They have been a poorly run organization for a long time now. People have been demanding for players to be paid since the beginning of time. This all will make Mark Emmert take a serious look at this. In order to make things right, change will need to happen. There is no reason serious change shouldn’t happen, but then again this is the NCAA so your guess is as good as mine.