Locker Room: Right is sometimes wrong

 

As was predicted in this column on three occasions the NCAA leveled no penalty last week on athletics at North Carolina. The reason? Tar Heel athletics violated no rule. UNC did nothing wrong.

Why? Because it was a university academic decision to provide what amounted to a bogus African American Studies curriculum. Did the athletic department decide to do this? Apparently not. Some people involved in the academic process decided to do it, and there was obviously a lack of oversight by the university.

The program offered was basically a free credit to be blunt about it. But it was available to the entire student body, not just athletes, and a bunch of students took advantage of it. So as far as the NCAA is concerned, the investigation proved that UNC athletics did nothing wrong and violated no rules.

Was this a correct ruling? Yes, it was. But like many things in our society today, what is lawful and legal doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right. Does the process taint some Carolina degrees? Maybe so. Does it damage Carolina’s academic reputation? I would say it does. How important is that? Sometimes I think it is very important, sometimes I’m not so sure these days.

But the ruling was correct, but also one would be incorrect to assume that UNC was right. In fact, UNC was wrong. The curriculum should have never been offered. It’s supposed to be higher education. But like “One-And-Done” college basketball players these days, the term higher education might be a reach sometimes.

Just like the NFL players who chose not to stand for the National Anthem and pay proper tribute to the American Flag. Can they do this? Yes. Is it legal? Yes. Is it right? Absolutely not. I’ve heard a thousand reasons given, and sometimes you just have to assume that some people will chose to make some sort of statement if they understand it or not. And often times without realizing the consequences and damages.

The NFL’s ratings have been dropping for a few years now. They are dropping at a far greater clip today. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell appears to be a very uncertain man for someone who makes $40-million a year. It is unfortunate in this opinion when people use sport to make political statements. Some players I’m sure feel compromised. Some owners too.

I do know this. As the ratings keep dropping, and ticket sales decline, the sport, whatever it is, becomes less valuable. Just check out NASCAR these days and count up all the drivers who can no longer keep sponsorships. Advertisers will pay less to promote their products with the NFL as ratings decline. Less marketing, less ticket sales, equals less revenue which equals less profit, less money for owners, less money for cities, and at some point less money for players. At that point, everybody will stand at attention. That’s the way it works. And another example of what might be right, what might be legal, can also be very wrong. The last statement is always made by the people, all the people.

Cleaning House:

There’s a number of things wrong in athletics these days, and that brings us to Louisville. You could almost term it an “outlaw school.” There was an extra marital scandal, payola, an attempted extortion, then prostitutes provided for basketball recruits, and finally the big payoff, Addidas playing money under the table to get recruits to play for Louisville.

It was bound to happen. It’s been going on for a long time probably. When you hear sports broadcasters and beat writers say they are surprised it hadn’t been revealed sooner it means they’ve known about it a long time, exists across the sport of college basketball, but they just decided not to say anything about it.

Finally Rick Pitino was fired. He knows nothing of course. And I own the Marriott in Sylvatis too. The AD was just fired. I suspect a bunch of people should be fired, but this is the kind of thing that happens when you sell your sport to apparel companies. College basketball put itself in the middle of corporate warfare. To the point that Duke is now a “Nike School.” Not Duke University, but a “Nike School.” Is that really a good idea? Is it good for a coach to be termed an “Addidas coach?”

Is it good that most college basketball recruiting these days takes place away from the educational environment, at camps in places that might be a thousand miles from home and the high school gym. These camps are usually in association with AAU, and sponsored by the apparel companies. Lots of money. And all the big time coaches are there. Nike coaches, Addidas coaches, and so on, and most of them are paid for their public relations value, and on all commercials you see for these companies, their schools are prominently displayed and used for promotional purposes

When was the last time you saw a major college basketball coach at a public high school basketball game for recruiting purposes? It all happens at the camps when money flows, and deals are done. And these camps are not open to the public. It’s only for players with special invitations, usually take place under the banner of AAU, involves the players the coaches want to see, and all their expenses are paid. Sometimes they miss as much as a month of class time at the local high school. Anybody saying anything? When kids to AAU camps uninvited and have to pay a fee, they are not being recruited or evaluated. They are being used for a fund raiser.

Louisville signed a new contract with Addidas, Pitino got a big payoff, all the teams at Lousville wear Addidas uniforms, and of course Addidas get rights to sell all sorts of Louisville athletic clothing, and pretty much has a monopoly on campus and in stores and all over the internet. But if you are going to be an Addidas school, you want to win big. That means more exposure, more money, and you always do whatever you can to get more money! So then you need buy players. When it all comes down the pipe, it would not surprise me if college basketball is not the closest thing to “racketeering” we have in this country today.

This needs to be cleaned up. If the NCAA does not get seriously involved in this scandal, then it is a putrid organization, but in this case, the FBI is very much in charge. There will be no hiding from this, although a lot of coaches, recruits, and AAU guys are likely trying to keep a low profile these days, but remember these words from William Sweeney, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI.

“To those choosing to conduct business this way in the world of college athletics, we have your playbook.” The last thing any coach in the world wants is for someone else to have his playbook, particularly if it’s the FBI. Some basic information that is right legally, and also right this time in real life. Bribery through educational programs that receive federal funds is worth 10 years of jail time. There’s a 20-year term for “honest services wire fraud.” Money laundering is also worth 20 years.

Why Jones Must Go:

I have watched Tennessee play football this year on three different occasions, haven’t watched a full game yet, not interesting enough. Tennessee doesn’t make sense. Why? Lets just compare the Volunteers to Alabama.

The last time these numbers were released was 2016 and I doubt little has changed. Tennessee has the largest fan base in the SEC, not Alabama. Tennessee sales the most tickets in the SEC, not Alabama. Athletic donations at Tennessee in 2016 was $32-million, three mil more than Alabama, donations for football alone $28-million, eight mil more than Alabama. And investment in the program? Tennessee invests $108-million a year into Volunteer football, five mil more than Alabama.

Toss in the fact that Tennessee has recruited in the top 10 in the nation for the past five years. Yet, they haven’t scored an offensive touchdown in 14 quarters. That’s three and half games! And last week the Vols called a “flea-flicker” play. The quarterback hands the ball to the tailback and the tailback flips it back to the quarterback and hopefully he complete a long pass down the field. One problem. None of the Volunteer receivers went out for a pass on the play. The QB got crushed.

There’s an old saying in football. You gotta “coach’em up.” Considering all the information above. Butch Jones has to go in Knoxville. The entire staff has to go. There is no way for the powers that be at UT to explain keeping Jones to that largest fan base.

By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot