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Federal College Basketball Probe Won’t Go Away

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A player runs across the NCAA logo during practice in Pittsburgh before an NCAA tournament basketball game in 2012. Photo: Keith Srakocic / Associated Press

By Evan Weiner |

The college basketball industry, which thrives because it is not paying the players that generate interest and bring customers to games or in front of televisions, is still facing a federal probe into business practices. The University of Maryland received two subpoenas on March 15 and June 29 from a sitting New York grand jury looking for information about possible improper payment or benefits to a former Maryland student-athlete. Maryland is the ninth school that has been ensnarled in the investigation and subpoenaed. In February Maryland coach Mark Turgeon claimed he had no knowledge of payments going to recruits or players.

The college basketball industry has been under federal investigation for three years. Criminal charges have been filed against four assistant coaches and three officials from the sneaker company Adidas. The Adidas employees will go to trial in October which is also around the time that the college basketball practices begin for the 2018-19 season. The problem seems to be rooted in the NCAA’s student-athlete stance that players on athletic teams are students first and athletes second and should not get paid.  The investigators are examining whether alleged payments to athletes from sneaker companies steering those athletes into a college or university basketball program with financial incentives defrauded various schools. The NCAA somehow has sold the notion that it is fine for them to make billions of dollars off of the backs of unpaid labor as long as they give a scholarship to the performers.

The college sports audience has accepted the Faustian pact between the schools and the student-athletes and sees no problem with the arrangement. After all, the audience likes the entertainment. NCAA leaders think one solution is to keep coaches away from agents and sneaker companies in the summer. But the NCAA likes money too much to come up with an answer. The real solution is to pay the players.

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

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