The Federal Bureau of Investigation 10 men in September 2017, in relation to fraud and bribery charges in Division I basketball. These charges surround a scheme where coaches, executives, travel agents and financial advisors attempted to move high school talent through college programs and then on to lucrative careers in the NBA in violation of NCAA rules. Those in this scandal include assistant coaches from Arizona and Oklahoma State. The University of Louisville even fired their Hall of Fame member Head Coach Rick Pitino in relation to this investigation.
These arrests and firings shook the world of college basketball and as Yahoo Sports , “… the material obtained threatens the fundamental structure and integrity of the sport, as there’s potentially as many 50 college basketball programs that could end up compromised in some way.” This prediction is likely considering NCAA violations are so widespread in college basketball and how little has been done to try to stop them. It is the NCAA’s responsibility to be more proactive in the future against violations of these sorts.
The University, unfortunately, is not untouched by this scandal. Documents that were in the discovery process for this case show an agent paid for a meal for former University basketball star Malcolm Brogdon's mother, Jann Adams, in a blatant violation of NCAA rules. Adams, however, has said she does not recall the event.
The FBI investigation is even more troubling because the body tasked with policing these violations has seemingly vacated its role. The NCAA should be seeking to prevent these violations from occurring in the first place instead of allowing them to become such chronic problems.
It is essential that there are organizations in place to uphold a high ethical standard in college athletics, considering how much money these sports for universities and broadcasters and the high stakes for those who participate. In addition, many prominent players go on to sign lucrative contracts with professional sports teams depending on their performance in college, elevating the stakes even further. Considering this high pressure environment, it is not surprising that there may be some illicit behavior occurring, but the sheer magnitude of this scandal shows a failure of the NCAA to regulate effectively.
Without effective oversight, regulating college sports will unfortunately be left to law enforcement organizations such as the FBI. Though it has been helpful that the FBI investigated this systemic issue, it is not the of a federal law enforcement agency to enforce NCAA violations. The fact that the FBI had to step in and become an enforcement mechanism for these regulations makes it clear that the NCAA has not provided the oversight necessary to discourage colleges from breaking the rules. The FBI’s involvement in this case is the single-most example of the NCAA’s incompetence regarding oversight, trumping a 2013 that resulted in the arrest of eight people connected to an illegal sports gambling ring.
The only way the NCAA can truly live up to its role of as an oversight body is if there is a radical change in the way the organization is run. Without a structural reorganization and an internal review there is no reason to believe that any meaningful change will occur.
In this scandal, the NCAA is at fault for doing nothing while this problem got so out of control. Though universities do have to play a role in ensuring that they follow the rules, it is only the NCAA that can ensure widespread compliance. One of the of the NCAA is to embody “the highest levels of integrity and sportsmanship.” Hopefully after reevaluating their performance, NCAA officials will be able to cultivate an environment among universities where these rules are followed, and the principles that they represent are not only required, but expected. This will not happen until the NCAA fundamentally changes, so it can effectively hold itself and its member institutions to the highest possible ethical standard.