What do Bugsy Siegel, John Gotti, Al Capone and the NCAA have in common?
They all ran criminal enterprises and got caught for it.
With a flurry of FBI arrests, the NCAA found itself caught up in yet another scandal as four assistant coaches were taken down in an athletic wear kickback scheme. The fraud scheme is diagramed in the picture above, but it involves the sleaziest elements of “amateur” sports: companies looking to make money off of kids, coaches attempting to steer students toward a company for their own benefit and parents pocketing the under the table cash.
All of this occurs because of the NCAA’s business model: pay the athletes nothing, put them in a situation where they’re so consumed by sports that they have little to no time for an education that is the supposed purpose of their scholarship (education can be a loose term with the NCAA) and make the coaches millionaires after they’ve become gleeful participants in the corruption games.
I’ll ask the question that a lot of sports media outlets won’t: who the hell do these people think they are?
In no other industry would college students be denied the right to earn income based on a skill. There is no college music cartel, no college scientific invention cartel and definitely no college start up cartel, as many tech companies have begun in dorm rooms. If a kid is a Hendrix, has an invention or codes something smart, nobody is going to come in and say, you can’t do that for profit here, we will put a limitation on either your compensation or your ability to operate in this space.
The NCAA does just that though with its insane “amateur” rules that literally leave athletes starving in facilities that would make Putin blush. It controls the market, like criminals control street corners for moving narcotics and ruthlessly destroys its competition.
The journalism surrounding the bullshit narrative that the NCAA puts out about the honor of college sports is beginning to show cracks. Some folks won’t change. Others continue to write positive think piece profiles on suspect coaches like Mike Leach (the same coach who oversaw a child with a concussion being placed in a shed). But political issues are beginning to occupy more and more space on the front pages of ESPN.
This can only be a good thing because it will be more than just covering highlights and contracts. I hope it will make people think: what if I was in the position that athlete was in? Wouldn’t I want my piece of the pie as opposed to having to choosing between getting cash in shoeboxes or open alliances with other exploitive, shady entities?
The kids deserve to be paid and have union protections.