The FBI investigation into men’s college basketball forces transparency to NCAA corruption. The fallout from the FBI corruption probe forced Mark Emmert, The President of The NCAA, to create the Commission on College Basketball in 2017. Chaired by former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to eradicate the hushed practice. The conclusion to her report, “Fix college basketball now, or it will collapse“. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver hints to future changes in the NBA as athletes RJ Hampton and LaMelo Ball pursuit outside opportunities.
Impact From FBI Probe
Bribery, Fraud, and Cheating
The corruption scandal ultimately began with ten arrests in September 2017. Among those is sports manufacture Adidas, including multiple college basketball programs associated with the brand. Meanwhile, the investigation has broadened, now involving basketball programs outside of Adidas. A previous Nike executive, Jim Gatto, working for Adidas at the time was importantly apart of the first ten arrested. Yahoo Sports published a report on February 2018, confirming FBI agents obtained hundreds of incriminating documents naming more than a dozen additional schools.
The first wave of programs effected; Arizona, Auburn, Louisville, Miami, Oklahoma State, South Carolina, Alabama, and USC. The second wave of programs; North Carolina State, Seton Hall, LSU, Maryland, Kentucky, Washington, Utah, Xavier, Kansas, Texas, San Diego State, Clemson, Wichita State, and Michigan State. Assistant coaches involved in the first ten arrests; Tony Bland, Chuck Person, Emmanuel Richardson, and Lamont Evans. Bland pled guilty receiving two years probation and Richardson pled guilty, receiving three months prison time and two years probation. Lamont Evans is facing deportation back to Barbados, also receiving a three-month sentence and an order to pay back $22,000
Among those additional sports manufactures involved, Nike was additionally served a subpoena. Specifically claiming the elite youth basketball league and grassroots basketball division were involved in corrupt practices too. Also, the investigation made headline-worthy news naming Sean Miller, Arizona’s head coach as a suspect by way of wiretaps. How did this all start? Marty Blazer, a Pittsburgh-based financial planner became an FBI informant after accusations of finance Ponzi schemes and embezzling millions from several athletes.
Condoleezza Rice To Lead Commission
Condoleezza Rice Chaired into NCAA Commission
“NCAA rules are, incomprehensible” is how Rice describes men’s basketball. Also sharing her view on student-athletes making money from their likeness, names, and images in the USA today’s interview. Condoleezza Rice explained that the current framework of college basketball will without a doubt crumble moving forward. Applying the death penalty to Southern Methodist University in February 1987, the NCAA is historically harsh to this rule. Changing this rule would be groundbreaking for college basketball.
In May 2019, Mark Emmert put together a group examining whether the NCAA should make the rule change as a result of the NBA affecting the NCAA view of college basketball’s future by eliminating their one and done rule. According to the Washington Post, Adam Silver discussed the topic stating, “Possibly as soon as 2022“. This business move by the NBA is specifically why Condoleezza Rice made her report clear.
The relationship between the NCAA and the NBA was undoubtedly affected by the FBI investigation. The one and done rule change at this time are the NBA flexing their muscle to conversely work outside of NCAA control. Previously, only conversations that went nowhere in changing this rule have consequently now turned to actions from within the NCAA. Opportunities also taken by top high school players to play overseas has without a doubt, importantly affected these decisions.
RJ Hampton’s Decision
18 Year Old Choosing To Play In New Zealand
A decision to sign with New Zealand Breakers an Australian-based National Basketball League team could be a start to a new trend. The talented 18-year-old, RJ Hampton is a five-star recruit from Dallas, Texas. A 6’5” point guard choosing without restrictions to play in the United States makes this decision unique. High school basketball players have been forced overseas to continue playing. The Brandon Jennings situation is specifically an example of this restriction tactic.
Facebook shows like “Ball in the Family” is exposing young athletes in the United States to playing professional international basketball. The youngest son, LaMelo Ball was taken out of high school by his father, Lavar Ball, at the age of 16 to play overseas. LaMelo Ball and his older brother LiAngelo Ball both signed a one year contract with a Lithuanian league team. LaMelo Ball while still in high school when he created his first shoe that nevertheless became the center of controversy. Considered a professional, LaMelo Ball no longer could compete in the United States before meeting eligibility standards to enter the NBA.
Not only are both LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton earning a salary playing basketball but also able to earn money for their likeness. Jay Bilas, an ESPN college basketball analyst, had this to say, “You are not going to see some mass exodus of people going to Australia” discussing Hampton’s decision. Matt Walsh, the Breaker’s part-owner has said the standard player for their team makes $100,000. Walsh continued to comment that Hampton’s contract would far surpass that. The NBA buyout for Hampton’s contract is set at $800,000 for the NBA 2020 draft.
Future of the NBA
Change To Come
The NBA paying for buyouts at a rate of $800,000 can emulate investing in international teams. Kobe Bryant has spoken out about what he sees from international players coming to the NBA, “I just think European players are just way more skillful“. Statements like that coming from Kobe Bryant resonates with basketball minds supporting the idea to play overseas. The G-League, newly invested in and created by the NBA has developed a platform for younger players to demonstrate their talents. Playing on networks ESPN, ESPN2, and NBA TV shows that the NBA is prepping for change in showcasing young talent.
One thing is certain, Condoleezza Rice and Mark Emmert see a threat to young players losing interest in becoming a student-athlete. The NCAA is the middle man for athletes to ascend into professionalism in popular sports. The NBA brand and top sports manufacturers have taken more than their desired amount of bad-publicity in the FBI investigation. Young players now have examples like LaMelo Ball creating a brand of merchandise, while also continuing to improve into a lottery draft pick.
Will RJ Hampton be able to grow as a basketball player to earn himself a top draft pick while playing outside the United States? The future of the NBA is currently up for grabs. Inventions like youtube have created a new reality for established institutions in the United States. The traditional student-athlete way of the NCAA may be on the brink of extinction. The NBA working relationship alongside the NCAA doesn’t seem to be worth the risk if change doesn’t come to the structure of college basketball.
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