Commentary: Federal Charges in College Basketball Scandal a Joke
One guy bought a poor family a car. Another guy, a father of a top high school basketball player, pimped his kid out to different teams to get paid. Another guy worked as a middle man to insure the $20,000 paid to his mother helped her son decide to go play basketball at a specific college. In all three cases, the defendants are being charged with defrauding universities and the federal government.
What a joke?
Christian Dawkins, Merl Code, and James Gatto are all being charged with crimes that could put them in prison for 20-35 years. All three of them were middle men for Adidas who, as a multinational company, funded a grass roots program to get kids to go to schools where Adidas brands were used. It was a simple formula — get the kid to an Adidas school with the hopes that kid would wear Adidas gear as a pro.
The foundation of the case against the three men is that they broke NCAA rules by paying the players families, thus defrauding the NCAA and the schools. They can’t be serious, right? NCAA member schools and top basketball programs get millions and millions of dollars from television rights for NCAA basketball. Not one dollar of that is in question as being paid to any of these guys. In fact, just the opposite is true. By insuring great players went to college, the NCAA actually benefitted by their actions.
There isn’t a piece of evidence in the case that alleges that Dawkins, Code, or Gatto took money that didn’t belong to them. Their crime then? Helping underprivileged families make a few bucks off of their kid’s basketball prowess.
Throughout the process, coaches like Sean Miller at Arizona, Will Wade at LSU, Bill Self at Kansas, and several assistant coaches have had their reputations dragged through the mud. And for what? Because the Federal government is bored?
A key piece in the whole “pay for play” scheme is that the players themselves were not obligated by any contract, to go to any school, or sign with anyone. In fact, Adidas simply treated it as a business loss if the kid didn’t sign with an Adidas school. How is that a crime? How is it that the Federal government sees this as something so important that they had 50 agents working on it a one time?
I, for one, am tired of the Federal government. They need to stay in their lane. They want these young people to go to jail for 20-35 years for basketball when the top crime boss in Philadelphia, who has ordered killings and the like for 30 years, just got two years in prison. Ridiculous.
The Federal government needs to re-evaluate their priorities. If they want to go after someone for defrauding the Federal government, they need to go after their President, Donald Trump. He has been defrauding the state of New York and the Feds for years by lying about income, taxes, property issues in New York, and the like. Leave college basketball alone.
At the end of the day, my objection isn’t that someone is trying to “clean up” college basketball, it is that they are trying to put bright young people in jail for what clearly isn’t a crime of any significance and, quite frankly, might not be a crime at all.