It has been a wild day in the world of college sports. This morning, a report from Yahoo suggested that dozens of schools have had players accepting bribes from a sports agency looking to land them as clients after their collegiate careers. Additionally, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo and ‘coaches from Villanova’ have had meals with the same agency.
Zero UConn players or coaches associated with UConn were mentioned in the report.
Mood: watching all the allegations coming up from the NCAA, knowing I was broke my whole college career ✌ pic.twitter.com/Ts26Yvnhzs— Sterling Gibbs (@SterlingGibbs4) February 23, 2018
Although UConn came out unscathed, Markelle Fultz, who was recruited to the University of Washington by current Huskies assistant Raphael Chillious, was named in the report— so that’s something to keep an eye on.
In light of this news, many former college athletes spoke out online about the NCAA’s rampant hypocrisy and nonsensical moral compass. They were joined by others around the game, like journalists, former coaches, fans, etc., who feel the same way.
Today we also saw an active head football coach join the chorus by speaking out strongly about the system in place and the people who abuse it to their benefit. That hero was UConn’s Randy Edsall.
He wasn’t done there. After suggesting that some of his peers may concerned about their own wrongdoings, Edsall went one step further, suggesting that players should be paid...
With @NCAAFootball proposal 2017-99 adopted Colleges and Universities will employee more people in their scouting departments than the NFL and still not paying the players with all the money being brought into the Conferences. We’ve become a farm system. #PayThePlayers— Randy Edsall (@RandyEdsall) February 23, 2018
... which is pretty amazing. There aren’t many active head coaches going this hard against the system that has made them all millionaires. The only other college football coach to suggest players should get paid while actively coaching, to my knowledge, is Steve Spurrier. Long live the Ol’ Ball Coach. In basketball, I think John Calipari has put some thoughts down in his book, but that is all I can think of. Feel free to correct me in the comments.
Revenue sport athletes are worth much more than the education and benefits they already receive. That much is clear otherwise schools wouldn’t invest so many resources into bringing them aboard, including recruiting travel budget, coaches, an 18th strength coach, barbershops in the locker room and, of course, all of those fun illegal activities. But for all their free spending and creative ways they have found to get paid, the NCAA and its member schools are very strict about a certain group of people making money: the actual players. Them’s the rules.
But the penalties for breaking these rules are so relaxed that the incentive to cross the line is extremely high, just like with steroids in Major League Baseball. For coaches, breaking the rules means risking a wrist slap to land guys who could win you more games, more adulation, multi-million dollar contracts and guaranteed career options for life. Those aren’t bad odds, and it seems many, many coaches have chosen to roll that dice.
When committing NCAA violations, it pays to ask for forgiveness or, like in the case of UNC, to buy forgiveness. Or, like in the case of Syracuse, to self-impose justice in bogus fashion. In the absolute worst case scenario, like with Louisville, a banner might have to come down. But that’s a bit of a hollow penalty. You can’t erase what went down on a basketball court five years ago. You can’t take away the feelings those players felt when the final buzzer sounded.
Coaches get paid. Players get memories—at least they can’t be taken away.