During the supposedly groundbreaking case featuring three college basketball bagmen, U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan announced what most assumed would inevitably come. Federal laws were allegedly broken. Those laws, regardless of reason, have nothing to do with the NCAA.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are here today because the government alleges that Jim Gatto committed two federal offenses when Adidas took a tiny portion of the money that it brought in and shared it with the families of the players on the court,” Kaplan said. “Now, the purpose of this trial is not to determine whether the NCAA amateurism rules are good or bad. It has nothing to do with it.”
James Gatto, Christian Dawkins and Merl Code, the alleged movers of money, are now in a position of defending themselves without having the easy punching bag of the NCAA at their beck and call.
CCNY. Boston College. SMU.
Dinosaurs were real. The Earth is most certainly not flat. Aliens might exist, but there’s unlikely a huge government conspiracy keeping it a secret. Halloween is releasing a sequel to the original a few decades, and installments, too late. Santa and the Easter Bunny are as real as you’re age, or that of those within your household, allow it.
Transparency. Facts. Information 99 percent of the population readily agrees upon to the point it no longer needs discussion, though the other one percent likely has a plethora of YouTube channels they subscribe to, feeding them the information they so readily want to devour.
Let’s be transparent. Let’s talk facts.
The NCAA is not on trial. It’s the easy talking point for college basketball media heads like myself, but there’s actual federal laws allegedly broken, without an apparent need for context within the courtroom. Context does matter, especially when the scope of what is sincerely wrong is so wide and varied, but the legal system needs to only focus on the charges brought on the three.
Baylor. Miami. North Carolina.
Yet, we all — the 99 percent — know how the sport got here. And we can even push aside the pay-to-play discussion. It’s important, though not so relevant to the current happenings we need to begin the eleventy-billionth argument about exploited labor.
It’s still about money, however. And power. In fact, it’s mostly power. The former goes right alongside the latter, but for anyone who has followed college basketball for more than 90 seconds, it’s the power breeding the chaos.
Mike Krzyzewski on FBI trial: “I really haven’t followed it that much. I think it’s minute, it’s a blip. It’s not what’s happening. We haven’t lost guys because someone cheated. I haven’t paid attention to it because I haven’t been affected by it."
— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) October 15, 2018
Coaches, schools and the NCAA all have something in common. The ability to trot about the landscape of collegiate sports with unchecked power. Unbridled, celebrated power. A kind of power so vast, so incomprehensible in nearly every other form of business, it’s become romanticized and idealized by those tasked with giving it its only true check and balances; the media.
Potentially iffy things happening in or around a program? It can’t be the lauded man overseeing it. It has to be some random evil-doer the general public never heard of. A kid wants to transfer? It can never be about wanting to find a better spot for himself, but some sort of character flaw — after all, coach after coach will tell you how these new kids refuse to stick through tough times.
Shoe companies fall along those lines as well. However, the government stays ready to check a power with assets capable of being liquidated. A school, or the idea of a coach, can’t be sold down to pay some hefty fine no matter the atrocities taking place on campuses around the country.
Penn State. Michigan State. Baylor (again).
So on and so forth and the beats to this drum are unlikely ever to change.
Trials in a courtroom deal with what they can when they can. Often, as equipped as we try so hard to pretend the judicial system is, the entire scope of whatever scandalous event can rarely be tackled.
Our judiciary system, however you might feel about it, isn’t on trial right now. It’s three men, who most believe aren’t the only rule breakers and are largely being used as scapegoats, who might have broken federal laws because more money and even more power were at stake.
The United States Gymnastics program, with roots in the collegiate ranks, having long operated with its power gone unchecked.
College (money) sports as it is today is broken. Beyond repair, if we’re being honest. And if it could, under the NCAA’s preferred guise of amateurism, I’m not sure we deserve it fixed.
How it’s not broken is now more evident than ever. It’s big business. The too big to fail kind. With too many folk falling, primarily based by race, on different sides of the pay-to-play fence, an area of concern the government will never likely take an honest gander at.
It’s 2018, of course. Can’t risk a percentage of the population’s votes who believe student-athletes already get too much as it is for the chance of taking down the last great bastion of public western labor abuse.
I don’t know what awaits the trial dominating the headlines a few weeks before the college basketball season starts. It probably doesn’t matter either, as every previous giant scandal has never loomed over it when bubbles start bursting and Selection Sunday nears.
Can you even recall all the scandals attached to the schools listed here?
People cheer more for their favorite sports teams than they do actual people. Mind you, this is regardless of the power and monetary structure in place and without care for legalities or ethical practices.
Ohio State. Minnesota. North Carolina. Louisville.
All schools mentioned had horrific ethical solecisms of power. The only differences were the degrees of tragedy, abuse or other (less) nefarious actions, and the fact the system remained the same as the student-athlete mill turned over new, replaceable commodities season after season.
None of it mattered before. None of it matters now. At some point long ago ‘we’ decided it didn’t have to. We chose sports over people. Hopefully I’m wrong, but it’s a bell that can’t be unrung.
Joseph Nardone has been covering college basketball for nearly a decade for various outlets in a variety of ways. You can follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone.
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