College basketball was rocked once again on Thursday as Yahoo! Sports published a transcript of a cellphone conversation of LSU head coach Will Wade and convicted go-between Christian Dawkins in regards to the recruitment of a current Tiger player, presumed to be guard Javonte Smart.
Once again, another black eye for the sport as the biggest spectacle of the season, March Madness descends on the masses. Not a good look at all.
Already we have seen Louisville have its 2013 national championship and wins vacated, and coach Rick Pitino resign in disgrace, Kansas and Arizona under the eye of justice and now this at LSU. At some point you have to ask yourself if there is anything be done to fix this?
I’ve thought about it all day, I think I might have a small plan to overhaul the system.
Step 1: Get rid of the one and done system in place. It is an absolute joke that top recruits are made to step on to campuses from Durham to Lexington to Los Angeles because “it’s for their own good.” That’s crap. If a top player is ready to play in the NBA, they need to go. Those players aren’t at their school to get an education; they’re just waiting for the NBA Draft. You think Duke star forward Zion Williamson is on campus to pursue his academic dreams? Nope. Plus his unfortunate injury has shed light on the subject of top players getting injured before they’re able to cash in on guaranteed NBA money. Thankfully it’s a minor injury, but what if he blows his knee out? Remember last year when the No. 1 recruit Michael Porter Jr. injured his back minutes into his season opener at Missouri and it cost him not only that season but his rookie season in Denver and 13 places in the lottery. The powers that be need to quit kidding themselves. The NBA is in the process of getting rid of this asinine rule. Hopefully it’s gone soon.
Step 2: Pay the players a stipend. Don’t give me that crap about NCAA players being “amateur.” Those players at those schools deserve compensation. The NCAA made over a billion dollars last season. One. Billion. You tell me who’s amateur. The players deserve some money for their services. The cash is there. Plus paying the players some money also helps to rid of the players to need for seedy runners and handlers getting the players' money for their needs on campus. All schools can be serviced with a flat amount that all athletes get. I contend that football and men’s basketball gets a bigger sum due to the amount of revenue they generate, but without question, all student-athletes deserve a piece of the pie.
If just those two steps were implemented, many problems in college basketball could be avoided. Among those being:
*Top flight recruits can go on and chase their NBA dreams when they turn 18 and graduate from high school. The recruits who want to go to college and play can. If a kid goes to college for one to four years and at some point try the NBA waters early, they can. It just makes sense.
*The hard-earned revenue the players make for the NCAA can be funneled down to them and help them survive and manage on campus. It’s simply ridiculous that a kid that makes money for their school and the NCAA can’t go out and buy a pair of shoes because they’re broke.
*The agents and handlers who broker big deals with schools and shoe companies supposedly for these athletes lose leverage because the power goes back to the athletes and their decisions. If they go pro, they hire agents to handle their business, not a back alley guy who only has his best interest at heart, not the athlete.
I love college basketball. But this whole scandal could mostly be avoided with a couple of common-sense guidelines. If the NCAA truly cares about their student-athletes, they will fix a broken system.
Shane Shackleford is a regional sports columnist from Speedwell, Tenn. You can contact him on Twitter, Facebook, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.