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September 29, 2017

In light of the burgeoning scandal in college basketball, the response from some corners is that if players were compensated — paying players, permitting them to cash in on their likeness (autographs, cut of jersey sales, etc.), and even allowing them to cut deals directly with shoe companies — it would end this sort of shenanigans. So would eliminating the NBA’s restriction on high school players that creates the one-and-done rule.

It’s an appealing notion. And it would reduce it a bit. Everyone would have to get comfortable with shoe companies dictating which schools would get the players. Nike deciding which blue bloods get certain players in their stable. That certainly would be what happens. Shoe company paying six-figures for a 5-star, elite player. They are going to tell him where he’s playing. They are going to recoup that money in apparel sales.

Here’s the thing, it won’t change the hustling by agents, street agents, runners, and the AAU coahes and family members looking for a payout. It won’t change agents trying to bribe assistant coaches and the AAU Coaches to influence kids towards them when they look to go pro.

This article is from 2009:

Agents and runners are accessing and building relationships earlier in a prospect’s career because they can and because the agents say they must to ensure they’re making a sound investment. And AAU coaches who have access to the elite player are being recruited nearly equally by the college coach and the agent — and have no problem hearing either pitch.

There was a time when agents worked mostly through college coaches. It was no secret that David Falk had a good relationship with Georgetown coach John Thompson and would have access to the Hoyas coming out of college. But the blossoming of grassroots basketball, with the success of high school-to-pro players such as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, created an intensity to get the next superstar.

“What happened for the big agents was they saw they needed to get the relatives to cut deals,” said a source who has ties throughout all levels of basketball but preferred to remain anonymous. “They weren’t recruiting the players as much as they were recruiting the players’ families. They were preying on the family members. A star player’s brother may cut a deal to get paid, and if he can get a computer, some clothes, why wouldn’t you?”

That’s not going away. The reference to David Falk in the heyday of the Hoyas is a salient point. Falk represented Thompson. Was very close to him and in those days, players stayed at least three years. Thompson had tremendous influence over those kids as a father figure and coach. They trusted him and usually went with his recommendation. No money changed hands, but Falk clearly had an advantage that other agents of coaches sought to emulate.

Mike DeCourcy is not wrong when he says that paying players is not going to solve this.

In fact, the risk of exploitation would exist for athletes even if NCAA colleges paid six-figure salaries to their basketball players — because there still would be few with the obvious ability to earn nine-figure NBA contracts. The risk of abject rule breaking would exist within college hoops even if the very best talent had the option of being drafted out of high school by the Philadelphia 76ers or Minnesota Timberwolves. Because if the top 10 entered the draft, there’d still be intense competition for the players ranked 11th, 12th and 13th.

Even if the lure of professional basketball were removed entirely, there would be coaches tempted to cheat. If Division I programs were fielding teams of sixth-graders, they would want the best sixth-graders.

We have seen competitive dishonesty in so many different athletic venues over the course of history, from the horror of a boxer reducing the padding in his gloves to the standard PED user in baseball and track to the benign sight of a soccer player diving to draw a penalty kick.

When the competition is in the arena of obtaining extraordinary wealth, however, the rewards are such that some are motivated to abandon their integrity. There are, as well, those individuals who never had any ethics at all. This is not a problem that can be fixed through the NCAA legislative process or NBA collective bargaining.

This is a problem of simple human greed. Blaming what allegedly occurred on any other factor will not move us any nearer to a solution.

I disagree with him on simply not changing the way things work, which is implied. But the answer is hardly as simple as bringing things above board.





I, generally, agree. Just paying kids doesn’t clean up the sport much.

I’ve been saying for a while that these kids should have access to agents from day 1 though. I don’t understand how schools can expect a kid to sign an LOI to a school without representation… and then expect a kid to honor the LOI … but then have the NCAA bar agents.

There should be the option of hiring an agent to help negotiate it’s terms. This would eliminate the transfer bullshit and help ensure the kid and family truly understand the commitment.

I understand that there is a seediness with agents but like every major sport, the agents would have to be on an NCAA approved list.

Kids should also have the ability for endorsements as long as the endorsement doesn’t use the school in the promotion. That’s where these shoe contracts would fit in. They aren’t necessarily paying a player but it is an endorsement … and if the school has the same endorsement … well, it’s mutually beneficial at that point.

The kids have to have representation though to protect their interest. It’s why I’m so against blocking a kid’s transfer. Without the benefit of a negotiation when they sign the LOI it’s a complete racket for the schools. No other full scholarship has the same limitations as an athletic one.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 09.29.17 @ 9:14 am

Players, at least D1 players, should be paid a reasonable amount under the current system. There will always be a certain amount of cheating in all ways but you still have to have a base line of ethics and a line to know when you stepped over. Maybe part of the answer is to reevaluate the entire system of college being the convenient minor league system for football and basketball. Let them development their own minor league for players who really have no top priority in an education. Perhaps something like baseball. Colleges still have competitive baseball teams. And maybe colleges could return to the idea of education as their primary purpose. If you take most of the money out, you eliminate much of the issue on a college level. There will always be coaches and players who cheat looking for an edge but you can at least create a stronger baseline of acceptable behavior.

Comment by AnotherClancyRebound 09.29.17 @ 9:22 am

It took Majors 96 or so freshmen to hit the jackpot.

Back in the ’30s Josh paid his players.

Pitino to Pitt in ’18!

Comment by steve1 09.29.17 @ 9:37 am

Be nice if someone could form a college-age FB league for players that don’t go to college. pay them $X per game and they can not be college students or play Pro for NFL, CFL etc.

Alot of kids can’t make it in college

Comment by mtoolmn 09.29.17 @ 2:17 pm

Unfortunately, it’s about the $$, always.

Comment by MariettaMike 09.29.17 @ 4:51 pm

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