When Mark Emmert’s contract was extended in 2016 he listed three areas he wanted to improve on for the student athlete experience. He wants to focus on the health of student athletes, specifically mental health and concussions. Also working on insurance and other health-related expenses. Here’s where it gets interesting. For academics, he wants to ensure that “above all else” student athletes are fully supported while getting an education.
As far as fairness the article on the NCAA website says “Delivering on commitments to student athletes at all levels with a particular emphasis on providing a meaningful educational experience."
If you are a college basketball fan you are most likely laughing as you read that.
The NCAA has made it clear that they don’t truly care about these athletes, especially their academic careers. The University of North Carolina did not and will not face a single penalty for creating fraudulent “paper” classes. Why? Because technically, these classes could have been taken by any student. However, athletes were steered to these classes by the athlete academic advisors and the students enrolled in these “classes” were overwhelmingly student athletes, mainly basketball and football athletes, which was a big red flag. The panel that investigated these allegations stated that “What ultimately matters is what UNC says about the courses."
Compare this investigation to another recent high profile case.
The University of Louisville lost its appeal in “Strippergate." For those of you who are not familiar with what happened, this is separate from the FBI investigation. The University of Louisville has now become the only university to have a national title taken from them. The book “Breaking Cardinal Rule: Basketball and The Escort Queen” written by former escort Katrina Powell states that former UofL assistant basketball coach Andre McGee paid her $10,000 for her services between 2010-2014.
Despite the self-imposed post-season ban, the University of Louisville has been ordered to vacate their 2012 Final Four banner, the 2013 National Championship, and 123 wins. The NCAA claims that the athlete’s that were provided prostitutes at dorm parties that were arranged by the assistant coach were ineligible. The university also has to pay a few hundred thousand dollars in fines as well. The case was built around a former prostitute that allegedly sent her own kids out to work as escorts. Also, keep in mind, she never faced any penalties.
In the middle of the FBI investigation and these other inconsistencies, there is only one question left to ask, how long until these programs get together and leave the NCAA just like college football did. NCAA March Madness might just become March Madness. The NCAA makes almost all of its money from March Madness and without the profits from college football, these basketball programs are the only big money maker left.
I asked former sports radio host Tony Vanetti what he felt was the most corrupt aspect of the NCAA, “Saying it’s about the student athlete and clearly it’s about the money. They are either inept or corrupt." He and his current co-host on 840 WHAS, Dwight Witten, both have also wondered when these programs will decide to walk away from the NCAA.