Shown in this picture are coaches and assistant coaches being investigated by the FBI for solicitation of bribery and other fraud conspiracy charges. (l to r) Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, Southern California assistant coach Tony Bland, Arizona’s assistant coach Emanuel Richardson, Oklahoma State University assistant basketball coach Lamont Evans, and Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl. (AP Photos)

All Because the NCAA Refuses to Pay Student-Athletes 

What a mess the NCAA has gotten itself into.

Ten people were arrested on Sept. 26 after a two-year FBI investigation led to charges of solicitation of bribery and other fraud conspiracy charges. Those arrested include college basketball coaches, sports management agents and shoe sneaker executives. Several others who weren’t arrested are being investigated for their possible involvement in the illegal funneling of money to players.

All that drama over nothing.

Or, if we’re really keeping it real here, all that drama because the NCAA refuses to cut the players a slice of its multi-billion dollar cash cow.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen college players or coaches get busted for violating NCAA policies against taking money as an amateur. But I must admit, this is the first time I remember FBI stepping into the picture and handing out potential life sentences as punishment.

Some reports claim that those involved in this scandal could face up to 80 years in prison. And all I keep thinking is: someone may do nearly a century in the pen, all because a little bit of money is being given to young African-American men in an industry that generates billions of dollars.

That might sound like a reach, but in the grander scheme of things, that’s exactly what’s going on here.

The money that has been allegedly funneled to some of these players is mere pennies in comparison to what the NCAA makes off the backs of student athletes. The NCAA, or more specifically, the colleges and universities that make up the NCAA, rakes in billions of dollars annually. There’s a 14-year, $10.8 billion deal with CBS to air the NCAA Basketball Tournament that produces $770 million annually for the NCAA alone, aside from what the associated universities see. Then there’s college football, which by some reports generates more than $3 billion each year

The Indianapolis Star recently reported on the exclusive deals that several colleges and universities have with shoe and sports apparel companies that are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The University of Texas and Ohio State University, for example, each have deals with Nike worth $250 million, according to the Star. The University of Michigan inked an 11-year deal worth $169 million for its players to exclusively wear Nike shoes and uniforms. The University of Louisville, which recently fired legendary college basketball coach Rick Pitino after it came to light that he was also being investigated by the FBI for his involvement in funneling money to players, is reported to have a 10-year, $160 million deal with Adidas.

All that money on the line, and it’s no wonder coaches, recruiters and even shoe execs are getting busted trying to pay recruits to play for their respective schools. It’s actually common sense for them to do so.

Why wouldn’t an Adidas executive attempt to directly pay star prospects to sway them to join the universities that are contractually required to don their brand? If I’m Under Armour, and I’ve agreed to pay UCLA $250 million over 15 years for its players to wear my brand, I’m going to want the best college athletes possible playing for UCLA so they can be seen wearing Under Armour.

That way, everybody eats, right? The brand eats because the world is watching star players performing with the brand’s name on their backs, and the schools eat by getting paid enormous amounts of money.

The only problem is that everybody isn’t eating. The players are the ones actually out there performing these phenomenal athletic feats that create so much money, yet they’re restricted from taking any of it. The NCAA claims it is protecting student athletes from being exploited, but we all know that’s a fat load of crap. The only things the NCAA and the various university presidents are protecting from exploitation are their own pockets.

The universities collecting all of the money simply don’t want to share any of it with student-athletes, regardless of the fact they’re only making that money because of the abilities of those student-athletes. With a majority of student-athletes in NCAA basketball and football being African-Americans, I can’t help but question if the NCAA’s refusal to pay them isn’t race related. In these days and times, with the racial division of our country fully exposed, it would be naive to think otherwise.

So many young Black men and women could be making real, legal money for their talents and services, which would drastically benefit their lives. Instead, they’re forced to take illegal money under the table thanks to the rules of an organization that has no shame in milking every single dollar and cent from their blood, sweat and tears on the court or field.

The FBI potentially locking up those coaches and shoe company execs is just a distraction from the true crime being committed: universities stealing billions of dollars from student athletes. Well, enough is enough. It’s time to pay our student athletes what they’re owed.

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