BOZICH | Time for Louisville basketball leaders to sweat -- or pack?
Federal authorities have investigated college basketball in ways the NCAA has not been able to do it, and the University of Louisville program finds itself in the controversy again.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – This was the biggest news in college basketball that wasn’t news to anybody who has followed the game within the game for years. Bigger than strippers and prostitutes frolicking at the University of Louisville basketball dorm.
Serious money flowing from an apparel company to advisers to coaches to players to ensure those players did all the things that the coaches, advisers and apparel company needed them to do.
Been hearing that for decades.
Been hearing the NCAA was investigating those tactics for years.
Been hearing the complaints from coaches who didn’t want to play that game and ended up losing recruits, then games and ultimately their jobs.
Now the federal government has popped the seal of the secret toxic world of paying for play – and college sports will never be the same.
It’s time for the University of Louisville to sweat and decide what it wants its basketball program to be, beyond the punch line that the last U of L scandal created.
It’s time for everybody to sweat, not just the four programs that had assistant coaches named in the indictment released Tuesday morning in New York City.
Federal authorities touted their tip line. They encouraged anybody with information to call -- before they received a call from the feds.
Oklahoma State? Auburn? USC?
They’re nobodies in college basketball. Haven’t seen them sniff the Final Four for years. They have not been recruiting and signing the Who’s Who on the national recruiting boards.
The only somebody that took a hit was Arizona – until you dug deeper into Page 14 of indictment and started reading about University 6, Coach 1, Coach 2, Player 10, and Company 1.
That player, who allegedly needed $100,000 to commit after flirting with another apparel company, was a Class of 2017 stud who picked his school at the strangely tardy date of June 3, about two months after the NCAA spring signing period opened.
Coincidentally, June 3 is the day that Brian Bowen, a McDonald’s all-American from Saginaw, Mich., delivered a recruiting shocker – committing to the University of Louisville, even though the Cardinals had never been strongly mentioned as a landing spot for Bowen.
Michigan State, Texas and Arizona had been three schools in the front row recruiting Bowen. Over the winter and spring, those three and others dropped out.
Bowen signed with Louisville even though recruiting insiders did not speculate that Louisville was involved. It was a five-star recruiting fairy tale unlike any other. If you have followed the recruiting meat market you learned long ago not to believe in fairy tales.
Are U of L coaches and administrators sweating?
They should be sweating and preparing to pack.
If U of L basketball is involved in what this federal indictment appears to suggest, the future of Cardinal basketball will be as bleak as it has ever been, considering the program is already trying to win its appeal of penalties imposed by the NCAA for the stripper and prostitution scandal.
Head coach Rick Pitino? Out.
Athletic director Tom Jurich? Goodbye.
A potential death penalty for the basketball program that would result in no games for a period determined by the NCAA? Certainly a painful and surreal possibility.
U of L interim president Dr. Greg Postel issued a statement Tuesday afternoon, confirming the university had received notice that the school was included in this federal investigation and that the university was committed to following NCAA rules, rules that the basketball program recently violated.
It’s the minimum move Postel could make. We’re about to discover if Postel is a leader or a guy who issues statements.
I recommended a basketball reboot two years ago. If this scandal attaches itself to Louisville basketball, there’s no reason to delay.
Those are the stakes in play with this story. They’re king-sized.
It’s a textbook snapshot into the world that coaches have howled about for years. They chase a kid for winter, spring, summer and fall. They build a relationship. They connect with family members. They’re convinced they have a commitment.
Then the player commits elsewhere.
The losing coach believes that he knows why he lost the player. But he cannot prove it. Neither can the NCAA.
The federal government believes that it can expose “the dark underbelly of college basketball,” transforming the power of wiretaps, secret informants and subpoena power into investigative juice that the NCAA can only ponder.
College basketball coaches across America should be concerned, very, very concerned, especially at the University of Louisville.
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