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College Hoops ‘Shamateurism’

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Louisville coach Rick Pitino shouts instructions to his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Pittsburgh, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. Louisville won 85-80. Photo: AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley

George Vescey, once a New York Times sports columnist and the co-author of a top selling 1976 book about country singer Loretta Lynn, Coal Miner’s Daughter that was turned into a hit movie, once noted that sportswriters were apologists. Because of the success of the book and his non-sports stature, Vescey didn’t have to wave pomp oms while he was commenting on sports in the 1980s and 1990s.

People who are covering college basketball today are having trouble addressing reality. The college basketball reality is the FBI is alleging that the industry is corrupt. The FBI is conducting an investigation which so far has resulted in 10 arrests and a so-called college basketball legend, Rick Pitino was forced out of a coaching job.

Then there was the arrest of three UCLA players in China for shoplifting. Incredibly, one sports journalist took a look at UCLA’s schedule and tried to figure out if the team could win games without the three players because they were in legal trouble. Why was UCLA in China? All part of the NCAA’s outreach to cultivate new markets and make money. That money is not seen by the players, the stars of the show, they don’t get paid while everyone else gets a check. But UCLA and Georgia Tech players did get a tour of China and some UCLA players are getting a close hand look on how the justice system works in China. So, there was an educational component to the trip for UCLA players, the ones who were arrested ones and the others.

The problems of the three UCLA players overshadowed a story that Coach Josh Pastner may have known two of his George Tech players got a golden handshake from someone and didn’t tell the NCAA about the transaction. The school suspended the two players pending an investigation. It is the teenagers’ fault not the coach who took the money. It’s just college basketball.

By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

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