Hoops hijinks hijack NCAA’s serious seasonby J.W. Miller on 10/07/19
The last few weeks have not been kind to the NCAA. Despite college football attracting millions of stone-cold serious fans to the annual Alabama/Clemson Seasonal Challenge, that other major sport has hijacked much of the attention, and it hasn’t been good.
In late September, Kansas University, which is playing musical chairs with Kentucky and Michigan State for the top pre-season ranking, was notified that the NCAA will soon release allegations detailing multiple major violations connected with the Adidas payoff scandal. Then a week ago, California Gov. Gavin Newson signed a bill allowing college athletes in the state, principally basketball players, to earn endorsement and sponsorship money, setting up a facedown with the NCAA. And to top it off, on Friday night Kansas took off the worry mask and put on party hats as that legendary communicator and gangsta rap artist Snoop Dogg helped them kick off their version of basketball midnight madness with a show that featured slithery pole dancers, fake $100 bills shot out of a cannon and his own ribald concert that muh-fuh’d its way into college promotional history.
Call the fun police! Hoops hijinks has hijacked the NCAA’s serious season!
The California governor’s action, which only rubber-stamped a bill passed unanimously by the California legislature, has the NCAA in a major dither. The bill would allow college athletes in the state to accept money for product endorsements or sponsorship activities beginning in 2023. Such a practice runs counter to the NCAA’s longstanding mantra that college athletes under its purview are amateurs who receive an education and should not profit financially for their talents. That argument has been eroded in recent years by the amount of revenue the NCAA pulls in annually, reportedly more than $1 billion in 2018, as well as the rising salaries that go to coaches.
Before the bill was passed, the NCAA had written to the governor, threatening to ban athletes in California schools from competition if he signed the bill into law. The NCAA also said the bill was unconstitutional, setting up the prospect of lengthy litigation. I don’t think the California bill is as loathsome as the NCAA contends. Colleges are not going to start paying every basketball or football player in the program. Only the stars would likely have a chance to receive compensation, but therein lies my biggest concern.
California schools would suddenly have a huge recruiting advantage for blue-chip football or basketball players. For example, if Kansas and UCLA are recruiting the same player, the Bruins could enlist a local advertiser and bump their offer from the cost of attendance to include money for a paid endorsement from the local Chevy dealer. The better the player, the bigger the money, and there’s not a thing the NCAA could do about it.
NCAA violations are nothing to laugh about, especially the Adidas scandal that has taken down former Louisville coach Rick Pitino and tightened sphincters at Arizona, Auburn and other institutions, including hoops royalty Kansas. The notice of alleged major violations against the Jayhawks came two weeks after a former Adidas consultant with close ties to Kansas Coach Bill Self was sentenced to one year of probation after pleading guilty to taking part in a “pay for play” scheme to attract top high school recruits to play at colleges sponsored by Adidas.
Text messages between Self and the Adidas consultant, Thomas Gassnola, were used in the 2018 federal court trial of two Adidas officials and an aspiring NBA agent. Gassnola testified in court that he made payments to the mother of Kansas player Billy Preston and to the legal guardian of Silvio De Sousa, another KU player. The notice by the NCAA informs Kansas to grab your ankles, because they apparently have enough evidence to take down the coach and reduce the Kansas program to a shadow of its traditional, well, Self!
Speaking of whom, the head coach apparently has failed the test in NCAA rules and regulations, but he apparently knows less about gangsta rappers. Snoop Dogg headlined a concert that followed KU's “Late Night in the Phog” celebration that officially tips off the 2019-20 season. Maybe Self’s promotions people told him that Snoop has recorded duets with mainstream artists such as Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry but forgot to tell the coach that Snoop’s regular repertoire inclines toward raunchy performances spiced by his lyrical profanity.
The repeated use of words that rhyme with “fire truck” prompted Athletic Director Jeff Long to issue an apology immediately after the not-so-family-friendly performance. But depending on the NCAA’s announced violations of Self’s program, he might not have to worry about California paying a player he is recruiting in 2023 or which entertainer headlines next year’s “Late Night in the Phog.”