So let me start off by warning you that I am going to be long winded here but believe me, every single word is needed. This is a topic that has bothered me for years. The way it’s discussed, handled, reported and responded to disturbs me immensely. Yes, it’s common knowledge that college athletes receive improper benefits and many coaches participate in under the table recruiting but we are still not being totally honest and transparent about this topic. I’m here to clear the air.
There are many people who perpetuate this cycle. I’m going to attempt to touch on all of them. I’m going to sum this first group up with one simple phrase that’s applicable to a lot of things in life, “It starts at home.” Yes, the parents are a big part of the problem. There are a few groups of parents in the sports world. There are the “meal ticket” moms and dads. These are the parents who have their kid pour hours and hours into their craft, not because the child loves it but because they want them to one day sign a multi-million dollar contract. And once that contract is signed, they will be on easy street. These parents barter their kid’s childhood for a payday that most likely will never come. Y’all remember Uncle Bubba from “He Got Game“? Uncle Bubba is real. There are parents sitting around waiting for the day when a major college program comes knocking so they can get a car or house in their name so it looks “clean”. Next group, the “Vicarious crew”. This is usually the dad who is at every game talking about how he should have been in the pros………….or the dad who got cut from JV and claims he should have been in the pros. This can go either way. But the recurring theme is “Parent played, didn’t go how they wanted, now living through their child.” Again, they have their child in the gym, grinding them into dust because they “know what it takes to make it”. Obviously you don’t. Now this last group is the one everybody sympathizes with and is also the most preyed upon, plain and simple these parents straight up need the money. It’s really hard and honestly a little unrealistic to tell a family in severe financial straits to reject a six figure payment but at what cost does that temporary relief come? Once you accept the money, you are beholding to the creditor forever.
This next group is going to be referred to as “The Handlers”. These are the high school coaches, AAU coaches, “trainers”, basically anyone who gets their hands on these kids from middle school (sometimes sooner) and pretty much guides their process up until they get to college. A lot of these people are for sale and their job is simple, deliver the kids. They will knowingly and willfully persuade an athlete to commit themselves to a less than ideal situation all for a bag of money. Then what do they do in turn? They say “my kids go D1.” So their benefit is two fold. They get dirty money from the schools and they build their brand. Here’s the evil genius, they are super selective with which kids they put their name on. They don’t tell you about the kids they have that can’t even make their high school team. And they never talk about the kids who never got better under their tutelage. They take the best kids they can find, take credit for their skill and deliver them to the highest bidder.
Now we can’t talk about everyone else and leave out the players themselves. I mean at the end of the day, they’re taking the money. Now on the surface this looks like a no brainer. Somebody rolls up to you and offers you “free money” you take it right? But as everyone knows, nothing in this world is free. Ever seen “Blue Chips” before? Butch McCrae could have left Western University if he wanted to. Moms would have lost that job and his family would have lost that house. I know it’s a precarious position to be in. I know it’s a lot of pressure. But players please be mindful of what you’re signing up for when you decide to enter that realm. We could just foster an environment that doesn’t put these kids in that position to begin with but that’s a conversation for another day.
The next group I’m going to call “The Establishment”. This is the NCAA/NBA. These entities work together to maximize profitability for one another. The most blatant evidence of this is the creation of the ‘one and done” rule. The NCAA saw some of their most precious commodities escaping their grasp. What do they do? Reach out to their partners in crime to find a way to stop the bleeding. So they come up with this silly rule that allows schools to at least rent these kids for a year at minimum. I know out right paying these kids is complicated but what about cutting them in on ticket sales, apparel, video games, you know all the things they use the kids’ likeness for to make money. They’d rather stop making the video game altogether then to split the pot. Essentially, The Establishment created an environment that put the athletes in a place where they felt that they were getting slighted. And one day, someone came up with the brilliant (horrible) idea to get a leg up on the competition by offering a kid a piece of the pie they felt like was being kept from them. Hey man, hungry people gonna eat.
Now for the final group of violators, the coaches. No wait let me be more specific, the head coaches. They don’t get a clever nickname. They aren’t held accountable nearly enough. These are the guys who are pulling the strings and making the calls. Then when an allegation is made and the cameras and mics are in their face what do they do? They straight up lie to us and play us for fools and say, “I have no knowledge of any illegal recruiting blah blah blah.” Come on man. OF COURSE YOU KNOW!!!! You mean to tell me something happens within the Duke basketball program that Coach K doesn’t know about? Something going down at Louisville that Rick Pitino was unaware of? That guy is still claiming that he ran a clean program. Give me a break. They have the most to do with it and face the least amount of punitive action. The worst that will happen is they get fired. Meanwhile a kid gets kicked out of school or has to transfer etc. So at a minimum the kid doesn’t get to play for a year. Worst case scenario, the kid’s collegiate career is over. The coach can get a job the next year if someone is willing to hire them. Ooooooo they took the banner down and vacated the wins!!!! I’m sure these coaches are shaking in their millions. Let me tell you another reason why I despise these guys, they get Black guys who have access to Black kids to keep this whole thing rolling and when the sh*t hits the fan, who do we see on the chopping block? The Black assistant coaches and the Black kids. All I’m seeing is a list of kids and how much money they took when it should be the head coach of every program that was mentioned at the forefront of the conversation. These are the guys who are calling the shots. We have to stop allowing these guys to use others as scapegoats.
I’m sorry I kept you so long but if you stuck around to the end, I appreciate you. This is a severely broken system that needs to be addressed. Until we do that, we will have this problem.