Another explosive story reflecting the endemic corruption of big-time college sports in America. It goes on and on, with compromises on standards, cheating, cover-ups and it cuts across all levels of football and basketball. it isn’t only Rick Pitino and his whores used to recruit talent, or John Calipari, and his “one and done” educational standards and the programs he has left in ruins, or now the sanctimonious Urban Meyer, but even the revered Joe Paterno. Ignorance isn’t excuse in the least. These people have been turning a blind eye to all sorts of violations since Knute Rockne ignored the criminal conduct of George “the Gipper” Gipp, of Ronald Reagan fame. But what of the outrageous salaries and the bidding wars for talent? Meyer earns $7.6 million (minimum!).
Ohio State fired wide receivers coach Zach Smith on July 23, after a history of domestic violence allegations surfaced — and three days after Smith’s ex-wife filed a domestic violence protection order. The following day, Meyer denied knowing Smith was accused of domestic violence in 2015, saying, “I was never told about anything.” That’s like saying I didn’t know the sun comes up every morning!
College big-time, football and basketball programs are completely corrupt. Money controls it from almost Pop Warner football and JHS level traveling teams in basketball, through the sneaker companies, to the JHS feeders to high schools and then on to college. Players move into my hometown of Mount Vernon, NY to eventually play on a nationally ranked team. Others, who know they won’t be starters are recruited by private and parochial schools or just move. Making a college team is big business, with theoretical large rewards at the end of the rainbow.
There is stream of “dark” money that goes all the way to the top. When I brought this up to Bruce Fabricant, AB Davis ’60 (Mount Vernon) who was the sports editor at Michigan State and made a living with sports advertising and promotion, his answer was, he didn’t care, just likes to turn the boob tube on and be entertained. This is a person who has values, is not a flat-earth troglodyte, and is not oblivious to the news or reality. He just doesn’t care. So be it. As long as the public couldn’t care less. Nothing will ever change.
The answer is to adopt the Ivy League or Division III standards. If a player cannot do college work, that player doesn’t belong in college. Both the NBA and the NFL should finance Minor Leagues with their billions. Of course, as long as they have a ‘free” system with Division I College sports, they won’t.
In the words of the late, do nothing President, one Calvin Coolidge, “The business of America is business.” What else is new? Big-time sports is too large, and for sure, too large to fail. Too much legitimate money is added to the GNP and nothing will alter that reality. But, without “minor league” players, who go like most baseball players to the “pros,” college football and basketball still will draw crowds with a new level of student-athletes, playing for pride, with zero intent of professional sports, unless after graduation they feel their skills are good enough. By the way, the reason the Ivies don’t draw, is because they are compared with the Big Conferences. Once the playing field between Division I and II is more level, interest will still be there.
I wrote this on November 10, 2011
The pathetic appearance of Joe Paterno greeting his well-wishers on his lawn; reflected how aged he is and how he is way past his prime. Years ago, university officials tried to remove him, but his power and his influential supporters rebuffed their efforts. Being in control of an important program for 46 years is too, too long. Yes, he had become an iconic institution, but have his supporters read the Grand Jury testimony? Have they forgotten the old adage by Harry Truman, that, “The buck stops here?” Well it was passed by Paterno to others, who believed that “sweeping the dirt under the rug,” would make it go away forever.
In football, as other institutions, the “Old Boy Network,” has a tendency to cover its own and ignore the victim. The reality is that if Sandusky was reported to the police, a great deal of angst would have been avoided, and a great many lives would have been spared the trauma he promulgated. There are too many people who live lives of rationalization and conveniently forget to do the right thing. We often forget that the most pious amongst us seem to forget that to do “the talk, they also must do the walk.”
College sports have been way out of control for decades. The recruiting, the phony transcripts, the unacceptable drop out rates, the overpaid coaches ($2-5 million per year at many state schools) the unseemly influence of boosters, the payoffs, the excessive travel, the Bowl Game farces, the conference jumping and most of all the poor education that big-time college athletes receive are all the legacy of big money controlling these colleges. Penn State was known as a squeaky clean program as was Notre Dame. A few years ago, the football coach at University of Cincinnati, one Brian Kelly was lured to ND, and they fired their then current coach Charley Wise and were forced to pay off the $15 million owed to him on his long-term contract. This is all too common and all of theses institutions are tax-exempt and many are state institutions. Penn State made $53 million from their football program last year. The ticket line remains long each year to pay the inflated prices of their football games and their cash registers continue to ring loudly and often. So as Calvin Coolidge once said, “The business of America is business,” and the business of amateur football is big business.
eople get what they deserve and the abuses of Sandusky and the cover-up by the PSU Athletic Department along with the lack of true oversight by the staff and the office of the Presidency have come back to haunt them all. I feel no sympathy for PSU, Paterno and all of the other hypocrites who talk out of both sides of their mouths. Maybe the students should wise up, stop looking at their idols through tinted glasses, and start studying. Maybe then they’ll get some value out of the $100-200 grand their parents are laying out for their education.
An Update on College Sports
Richard J. Garfunkel
Of course, this is nothing new. Even before the huge cheating scandals of the late 1940s which culminated with the CCNY scandal of 1950, the fixing of games all up and down the East Coast and into the Midwest, cheating had been going on for decades. These scandals were repeated again in the early 1960s with NYU and other schools. Ringers were brought in to play in specific games under phony names, and even the great, and legendary, George Gipp, made famous by Ronald Reagan in the classic film “Knute Rockne, All-American,” was a fraud. He was a 25 year old gambler, never attended classes, had been in and out of school, lived in an expensive hotel off-campus, and was 25 when he died of pneumonia trying to get back to the dorm while he was very possibly drunk or high. His conduct was conveniently ignored by both Notre Dame and Knute Rockne. There were all sorts of Hollywood films, made in 1930s, about the farce of college football and the big dummies that never went to class. Nobody paid attention to basketball in those days.
Getting back to the heart of the point-shaving era that plagued college and pro basketball in the post war years, the scandal had reached a white-hot meltdown proportion with Manhattan DA Frank Hogan’s investigation of the local colleges. It started with a Manhattan College player named Junius Kellogg, who said he had been offered $1000 to “shave” points. Eventually, this investigative dragnet, would envelope and ensnare the whole starting five of the CCNY team. The fabled Kangeroos of CCNY, under the coaching tutelage of venerable, legendary and scrupulously honest Nat Holman, had won both the NCAA and NIT Tourneys in 1950. Eventually players from LIU and NYU were also caught in the ever-spreading net. The scandal eventually ruined the careers of Holman (1896-1995,) who coached for 37 years with a record of 421-190.(He later came back to CCNY and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.) and the brilliant Claire Bee (1896-1979, the author of the “Chip Hilton” books) the longtime coach of LIU. It was said by one influential columnist that “basketball as a big-time sport was dead.”
Professor Yale Kamisar, the Clarence Darrow Distinguished University Professor of Law Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Law at the University of Michigan Law School as well as a tenured professor at the University of San Diego School of Law was a graduate of NYU (1951) and the Columbia Law School. He was the Sport’s Editor of the NYU newspaper, and he told me of his personal knowledge of the widely known scandal and the fact that DA Hogan specifically ignored the local Catholic colleges (St. Johns, Manhattan and Fordham) and went after the schools that primarily depended on Black and Jewish players. According to books on Molinas, CCNY and the basketball of that era, the point-shaving practice was conventionally done everywhere. This wasn’t limited to the Metropolitan area schools, because the Kentucky super championship teams of 1948 and 1949, under the legendary Baron Adolph Rupp were also implicated. Alex Groza, their great star, was banned form the NBA for life in 1951.
Because of the collapse of college basketball at the Garden, pro basketball was able to prosper as it filled in the vacuum created by the scandal and the cancelled college schedule. Scandals did not end in the early 1950’s and the NBA was not immune to such criminality. The Fort Wayne Pistons, under the ownership of Fred Zolner, were up to their neck in point-shaving. The basic reason was their young star, Jack Molinas, who throughout his playing career at Columbia and in the NBA, shaved points and dumped games. The relatively huge contract Jack Molinas received when he signed with the Fort Wayne Pistons ($10,000) was dwarfed by the small fortune of around $200,000 he had already earned through his various nefarious activities while at Columbia. His NBA contract was just pocket change; a demonstration of the respect due to Molinas, while he continued to earn his real salary from bookmakers.
Today, the big money isn’t really with point-shaving and betting, but the multi-millions paid for by the networks who get contracts with conferences like; The Big Ten, the SEC, the ACC, etc. This involves ESPN, Fox Sports and other broadcast entities. Players are getting signing bonuses in cash, of over $100,000! They are recruited as young as 13 years old, are nurtured and supported by agents (recruiters), who are conduits to big time high school programs, and then their coaches often steer, for a “consideration” (bribe, fee), them to the highest college bidder. Along the way, the sports networks pay hundreds of millions of dollars to the conferences. Does anyone really care that these players attend class, or even graduate? Coach John Calipari, of Kentucky, doesn’t. He is famous for the “one and done” player, who is recruited from high school, is expected to play one season and jumps to pro basketball here in the NBA, or somewhere else around the world to play. Calipari routinely recruits a whole “class” of Freshman, that are expect to play and replace the upper classmen who are the “holdovers” from the season before. Does he care? Of course not. That’s why he makes over $7 million per year, and is worth over $30 million. Nice work if you can get it.
There are few cures to this chicanery, fraud, tax-evasion, and outright corruption. Some sports’ wags, say the answer is that amateurism is and was a fraud, pay the players and that will be the end to this recruiting chain. That solution is farcical on its face. How much, would players be paid? Who gets paid more on the team? What about the smaller schools? Will there be an “auction block” and a bidding war for talent? Will players get signing bonuses and will they have to go to class, no less stay and play for the full four years? What happens if they get cut and are off the team? By the way, does anyone really care? That’s the rub!
By the way, the firing of Rick Pitino of Louisville is just one case in many. How many times has the NCAA, and its miniscule enforcement division, ignored John Calipari of Kentucky? Why has his nefarious career been allowed to proceed? By the way, back in 2014 when I wrote an article on the scandal at North Carolina, where players hardly attended class, and there was even a phony and phantom department, In 2013, the UNC head football coach, Larry Fedora was paid $1.7+ million and his staff over $2 million. He is ranked 58th highest paid in the Nation! As for their basketball program, in the highly competitive ACC conference, Head Coach Roy Williams is paid $1.8 million, while the number one and two salaries in the nation; Mike Krzyzewski, of Duke and Rick Pitino, of Louisville, both head coaches in the ACC, are paid, respectively: $9.7 and $5.8 million apiece. That’s real money!