By Ken Reed
Shortly before this past college basketball season began, federal prosecutors charged 10 men in a basketball fraud and bribery scandal that rocked the NCAA and SportsWorld. Those charged included assistant hoops coaches at several big-time programs and a top Adidas executive. The case involves numerous instances of alleged bribes and kickbacks in an effort to influence basketball recruits’ choices of schools, agents and apparel companies.
A few weeks later, a reform initiative called the Commission on College Basketball (CCB) was formed. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice was picked to head the group. Rice’s group recently released their recommendations for fixing the NCAA.
Basically, the CCB’s recommendations are nothing but band-aids that address some of the symptoms but not the cause of the mess that is big-time college sports. What Rice’s commission didn’t address is the deeply flawed amateurism model at the core of the problem. As college basketball analyst and frequent NCAA critic Jay Bilas says, the Rice commission didn’t address the “failed concept of amateurism” that is at the root of most of the NCAA’s problems.
Noah Cohan, an American culture and sports studies lecturer at Washington University in St. Louis, had the best — and most succinct — analysis of the problems in American college sports that I’ve come across. Here’s his tweet on the subject:
If you study the history of college sports, this is crystal clear. Something ‘scandalous’ happens, band-aid reforms are passed that address only particulars and not systemic issues, and 20 years later everyone is *SHOCKED* when something “scandalous” happens again. #EndAmateurism
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of FansPrint
- League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.