College Basketball’s Biggest Scandal in over Ten Years
The world of college basketball took a huge blow recently as devastating reports of recruitment bribery and corruption were found. At programs like Louisville, Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State and others, investigators have found cases of bribery between coaches and recruits. This scandal has led to suspensions, firings, and arrests of coaches and officials all over the NCAA and will threaten the eligibility of some players too. With basketball season approaching, many wonder how exactly this scandal will affect the NCAA’s reputability and what consequences college basketball will face in the future.
The biggest side-story of all this mayhem is that Louisville’s head coach Rick Pitino was placed on unpaid leave and will not be allowed to continue to coach the program. Pitino is one of basketball’s most decorated coaches, winning two national championships, recording a career win percentage of .74% (770-271), and reaching the Final Four seven times. Pitino has lead Louisville to becoming a prestigious Division 1 program but along the way has been involved in other scandals as well. Other assistant coaches have been suspended, fired, and some even arrested, such as Chuck Person (Auburn), Lamont Evans (Oklahoma State), Tony Bland (USC), and Emanuel Richardson (Arizona) for being involved in various recruitment bribery.
Involved in recruitment chaos too is popular athletic brand Adidas. Some employees of Adidas have been fired for affiliating with schools involved with this scandal. A company representative allegedly agreed to make payments totaling $250,000 to recruits to attend schools they sponsor. Adidas interacts with college programs, like Louisville, and is also a part of recruitment programs like the McDonald’s All-American Game and Adidas Uprising, which are featured events that hold competition for the best high school players in the nation. Some adidas employees have been arrested for illegal bribery with recruits.
After investigation, we have seen many players decommit from schools and some even suspended. Brian Bowen, a former five-star recruit who committed to Louisville in early June, was suspended for receiving $100,000 from Adidas. It’s unsure if Bowen will be ineligible for all of this season, and if so he will likely enter the 2018 draft without any college experience by playing overseas for one year. 2018 Louisville commits Romeo Langford, Anfernee Simons, and Courtney Ramey immediately decommitted after reports were released, and Pitino was fired. With the season approaching, the future does not look bright for the Louisville program. Other programs are facing consequences too as four-star recruit EJ Montgomery decommitted from Auburn. Montgomery was brought in to be a valuable piece for the Tigers, and his decommitment leaves fans worried about the upcoming season.
With basketball season only a month away, many do not know what this means for the NCAA and college basketball going forward. These reports will certainly challenge the NCAA’s reputability, and there could even be a drop in viewership of games and support of the NCAA. Ticket sales are expected to reduce, along with merchandise profits as well. The lingering effects of this scandal will certainly not go away, and if new investigations reveal more untold truth, college basketball could quickly become less popular.