by Caleb Piersma
On February 23, Yahoo! Sports broke one of the biggest stories of the 2018 sports year. The FBI had investigated possible corruption within National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball teams. The documents published by Yahoo! Sports showed many present and past players and over 20 programs’ involvement in receiving or giving bribes to attract players to their programs. These players and schools are not low-grade and unknown, they are high-profile programs and players who have impacted the NCAA or NBA. What is causing coaches to break NCAA rules and pay players to come to their school? How can the NCAA fix this?
The FBI investigated NBA agent Andy Miller and his agency, ASM Sports. The programs included in the list, released by Yahoo!, were Alabama, Iowa State, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, University of Southern California, Vanderbilt and 15 others. A report from Yahoo! released in September of last year had Auburn, Arizona and Oklahoma State all violating rules from the NCAA. All these schools were caught for allegedly giving cash advances, entertainment and/or travel expenses for college prospects and the families. The schools would pay ASM Sports Agency to give the players and their families extra benefits and the school would pay the agency back. This is in direct violation of NCAA rule stating that no player or recruit can receive any extra benefits or money from an agent or school.
These findings rocked the sports world, as many players from the NBA were quoted talking about the scandal. NBA star Kevin Durant said, “We’ve been at this thing for a long time, this is a huge business now, so it’s tough to stop.” NBA rookie Kyle Kuzma stated, “Someone take down the NCAA for generating billions of dollars to only pay its student athletes a cost of attendance of $900 dollars a month.” NBA rookie Lonzo Ball also commented saying, “Everybody knows everybody’s getting paid and that’s how it is. Everybody’s getting paid anyway. You might as well make it legal.” What’s shocking is the scale of this issue – the athletes are saying this practice is common and happens everywhere. If it is already a big business; than how many other colleges are doing this? The idea of paying student athletes isn’t new – it’s been gaining a great deal of traction in recent years. Considering how much revenue sports programs bring to their respective schools and the NCAA as a whole, it isn’t unrealistic for athletes to expect compensation for their play. Some of these players come from hard lives and would love to make a little extra money to help their family out.
After all of this said about the scandal, what should be done? I believe that the NBA needs to change their idea of having athletes attend at least one year of college. When looking at other sports, football requires players to attend at least three years of college. Baseball, if not coming directly out of high school, requires players to stay at least three years as well. The NBA has a policy that a player needs to attend at least one year of college to be draft eligible. The NBA needs to adopt the policy that baseball has. A player should be allowed to enter the draft directly after high school, but if they aren’t drafted then they can go to college. There are only 60 draft picks in a yearly draft. The talent level in college basketball would not be significantly diminished. For example, if there is a large number of high school players declaring for the draft, and 40 of the 60 players are coming directly from high school, there is still plenty of talent remaining for colligate programs. The coaches would still be developing amazing athletes – the NBA isn’t taking that many players away. If players didn’t leave directly out of high school, they should be required to attend at least 3 years of school. They need time in college to develop into really good players. If they weren’t able to get drafted out of high school, then they probably need a few years in college to reach their maximum potential.
Lastly, the NCAA needs to do something about how much revenue they and the schools bring in. The players don’t receive any of it. They might receive scholarship money, but the left-over money needs to somehow be distributed back to the players. It is terrible to think that players are playing for a school, winning championships and putting their college on the map, without receiving any compensation for their effort. The only issue I have with paying players is when recruiting becomes a bidding battle on who is going to pay the player more. Then huge schools, who bring in the most money, will continually dominate the sport. No low-to mid-major school is going to be able to compete with big schools who can give $100,000 to a recruit. There needs to be some across the board payment plan, or there needs to be a maximum a player can receive. If they set the maximum to $5,000 a semester or a year (plus their whole tuition payed for), then it would equal and level the playing field for most colleges while making sure the athletes are getting compensation for their successes.
The scandal brought to light the corruption of college sports and the NCAA. Many are furious with the NCAA and demand a change. I am one of those people who wants to see some change from the NCAA and the idea of paying players. If nothing is done, these scandals will become the norm and college sports will get out of hand.