Make no mistake, college basketball changed forever today.
All the rumors of shady deals for top players, of shoe companies wielding cash and influence behind the scenes – everything sleazy about the sport that’s been whispered about and joked about and wondered about for years and years, it’s all out in the open now.
And it may not stop with Adidas, which had multiple employees charged in indictments announced by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York this morning. And it may not stop with the schools and assistant coaches named in the indictment. Two of the former can be easily traced and appear to be ACC schools Louisville and Miami.
Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim announces charges stemming from an FBI investigation into top NCAA basketball programs that also involved a corrupt scheme with a major sportswear company.
The details are staggering: Routine six-figure payments to top recruits to deliver them to specific schools. And what’s staggering is not that it happened, as just about everyone assumes it has all along, but that it’s right there, in black and white. All of a sudden, it’s real. All of it. “This is kind of one of those instances where we needed to step up and help one of our flagship schools … secure a five-star caliber kid,” one of the Adidas employees is alleged to have said.
The entire seamy underbelly of college basketball – and by extension, all of big-time college athletics – has been exposed for the world to see. Players bought and sold.
The NCAA must be furious, especially because the feds refer to “Player-10” instead of “Student-Athlete-10” in the indictments.
But this is not an NCAA investigation with slaps on the wrist for everyone at the end. This is a federal investigation. An office that typically investigates Wall Street shenanigans doesn’t call press conferences on cases that aren’t a slam dunk. There will be real-life consequences.
Who knows how deep it runs? We got a better idea at noon, when the charges were formally announced. But this is going to tear the fabric of college basketball wide open. Things that were once hidden are now out in the open, and it’s hard to believe this stops here. This is just the beginning.