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It is apparent that college basketball and its feeder system are badly corrupted. The general sentiment is that there is just so much money involved that the pressure to win (and make money) are so intense that shady influences among the schools, shoe companies, AAU coaches/handlers and agents are allowed to exert more power than the purists (like me) would like. As much as college basketball is a revenue generator, it pales in comparison to the revenue generated by college football. Undoubtedly, the feeder system in college football (the high schools) is much cleaner than the AAU feeder system that college basketball relies upon. But is it naive to think that while the college basketball recruiting game has more than its share of unsavory characters and behavior, college football recruiting is clean and pure?
Thanks for your great coverage of the Dawgs!
— John Chalfan, Jefferson City, Mo.
There certainly has been much evidence of corruption in college basketball recruiting. That was apparent even before the FBI launched its ongoing investigation and started arresting college assistant coaches. Paying out money to land the best recruits in the county to suit up for State U is nothing new, but what takes this up a notch is this is the first time the federal government has gotten involved.
That’s because money is involved. Or to be more precise, traceable money. That has always been the difficulty for the NCAA — tracing the money. Well, that and subpoena power. This time, people are getting arrested and are facing the real threat of going to jail because the feds have been able to follow the money trail from and to specific individuals.
Meanwhile, you’re right about football being an even greater revenue producer. The rate at which TV money is pouring into Power 5 conference football right now is mind-boggling. Just look at the deals going down for coaches and the amount of facility construction happening on campuses. These athletic departments are, after all, nonprofit entities. They have to spend their money somewhere, and they can’t pay the players.
But now shoe and apparel companies are deeply involved in football recruiting. They always were, with all these elite prospect camps and all-star games. But now sports equipment manufacturers are lending their names — and equipment and apparel — to the summer 7-on-7 scene.
Check out the Team Elite Texas, “a national travel club” that Under Armour sponsors. Nike created a new 7-on-7 league in 2016 that conducts tournaments all over the country. No doubt you’ve heard about the Cam Newton Foundation’s 7-on-7 teams. They’re being formed all over Atlanta and tournaments are being conducted all over the South, including “a high school football series” being held in June and July in Marietta, Rock Hill, S.C., and Birmingham, Ala.
Certainly, a lot about that is wholesome and beneficial to youth seeking to compete and get noticed in football. But it also lends one to think it’s only a matter of time before abuses are committed and/or exposed.
One factor that has kept college football from being vulnerable to mass scandal has been the continued strong influence of high school coaches and administrators. But the more third-party entities get involved in the recruiting and exposure process, the more vulnerable the sport will become to similar abuses.
So, yes, it’s just a matter of time for college football to get caught up in some similar type of scandal as we’re seeing in basketball. Then again, the will to win has never waned in college athletics, so there are always going to be alumni and coaches willing to push the limits.
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