Wiedmer: Scandal with legs may overhaul college hoops

Wiedmer: Scandal with legs may overhaul college hoops

September 28th, 2017 by Mark Wiedmer in Sports - Columns

Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim, second from right, and FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney, Jr., right, speak Tuesday while announcing the arrest of four assistant men's college basketball coaches on federal corruption charges.

Photo by Bebeto Matthews

Related Article

Wiedmer: College basketball is in a big heap of trouble

Read more

The email arrived early Wednesday afternoon, and it came from an old friend and longtime fellow college hoops junkie.

The subject line read: "This is the way ..."

Once opened, the rest of the message read: "... the world ends."

My friend wasn't talking about the fate of Louisville men's basketball after the university's announcement that both Cardinals coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich had been placed on administrative leave.

That decision was pretty much a foregone conclusion as soon as news broke Tuesday that the FBI had video and audio evidence of an unnamed Cards assistant coach helping broker a deal with the family of a player believed to be prep All-American Brian Bowen for a cool $100,000.

And Louisville fans might be right to believe this is the way their basketball world will end for the foreseeable future, given they were already on the edge of surrendering their 2013 NCAA title for Stripper/hookergate. Talk about your sausage factory.

But my buddy was speaking more to the sport in general, to all those schools with national championship banners hanging from their rafters that have been rumored — or proven — to have broken NCAA rules in the past, not to mention what this burgeoning scandal that has already smeared six high-major programs might do to foster public disillusionment and rejection.

Related Article

Louisville places coach Rick Pitino, athletic director on administrative leave

Read more

The whispers have always been there, of course. Secret meetings in hotel rooms with folks you'd hide your jewelry from before you'd let them in your home. Briefcases filled with cash. Secret bank accounts. Phony jobs.

A single story, but no names to protect the long-ago guilty: One Southeastern Conference school was fortunate enough to have an in-town booster who was a furrier when fur coats weren't yet on PETA's blacklist. The school's players would go to the fur shop and buy a coat for a greatly reduced price. In the pocket was a phone number. The player would then call the number and sell the coat to that person for a large profit.

Pitted against FBI charges of wire fraud and conspiracy, such a scam seems almost quaint. And those scams have been going on in one form or another since the first wealthy college sports fan decided it was much more fun to win than lose and the best way to ensure such victories was to make sure you had better players than the other team.

But this isn't the NCAA stretching out its alligator arms to nail some easy, helpless prey because, in the immortal words of the late UNLV sinner Jerry Tarkanian, "The NCAA's so mad at Kentucky they just put Cleveland State on three years' probation."

This is the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office. They arrest people, and those people often go to jail. Because of that, it stands to reason most of those folks fingered by the FBI are about to sing like canaries regarding all they know or have heard about other programs.

So it could get really ugly really quickly, especially since ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla — a former head coach at Manhattan, St. John's and New Mexico — said Wednesday he believes only 70 percent of coaches in Power Five conferences are doing it the right way.

Assuming the other 30 percent are cheating, you have to believe those are the schools making the NCAA tournament.

To be fair, 46 percent (30 total) of the 65 teams that make up the Power Five leagues — the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — made last year's field. Of the six schools thus far implicated by the FBI, only Auburn failed to get an invitation. So crime doesn't always pay.

But we're also but two days into this scandal. This may not be the way the college basketball world ends. But it certainly feels like the beginning of the end for the college hoops world as we've long known it.

And that's a good thing.

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com.

Related Article

Adidas exec, 4 coaches charged in college bribery scheme

Read more
Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315
Email: webeditor@timesfreepress.com