Kansas the Victim?

The jury deliberations are over and James Gatto, Chris Dawkins and Merl Code have been found guilty of fraud.

But what does this mean?

Well, for one, it means Kansas is a victim.

Victim is a weird term to use for this situation. Maybe it’s technically correct by law terminology, but we all know there’s more than meets the eye. I’m a Kansas fan and know full well that the only victims in this scenario are the student-athletes.

I’m not saying Kansas had anything to do with the payments. I’m also not saying they didn’t. The truth is there hasn’t been any proof to say they did. But the NCAA and FBI must be cautious on how they hand down their punishments.

It wasn’t right for the Adidas agents to use company money without full approval, especially in the amounts that were spent. It also wasn’t right to pay players behind the University’s back without their knowledge and with risk of severe punishment. But I don’t feel prison is necessary and it sends a dark and grim message throughout the sport of college basketball.

We’re in a time where the top players have become such a high commodity that it’s distracting from the real purpose of the sport; to teach student-athletes. It’s not their fault, though. It all boils down to money, and the ones that are generating most of it aren’t allowed to have any of it.

I can’t say that I think players should be paid by their University while in college. There are arguments on both sides and both make sense. But instead of focusing on punishing the “guilty” parties the NCAA and FBI should first focus on making it right.

The fact is this is happening all over the sport. And it’s not just college basketball, this also happens in college football. How can we expect a young man to refuse money from a man in a suit giving him all sorts of promises? For this, the NCAA needs to take a stand and admit it’s faults. And then it needs to fix them.

How do they fix these issues?

I’ve heard a lot of good ideas and I’ve heard a lot of bad ideas. But the truth is there may not be a 100% correct answer. Some people will be happy, others wont. Matter of fact, most people won’t be happy. It’s not about making people happy, though, it’s about doing the right thing.

One of my favorite ideas is the NCAA should take the shoe companies out of the recruitment formula.

First, the NCAA should start a manufacturing business to make apparel and allow all the schools to market their brand which is their University. Not Nike, not Adidas, not Under Armour. They simply market their school.

This allows the players to then choose which shoe brand they’ll wear. And if the shoe brand wants to sign the players and pay them, go for it. One stipulation, to the benefit of the University, could be that they also get a kick back from the players contract with the shoe company. This doesn’t persuade a player to go to a specific school but still gives the University some sort of revenue if the player does pick them.

I understand that apparel deals like Adidas and Nike are huge in revenue for University Athletics. It would be hard to eliminate them that easily without making up the miss on revenue. But the NCAA needs to remember what college basketball is all about, and that’s the student-athletes.

Again, this likely isn’t the ideal solution and one that would take too much effort and change to bring about, but it’s something that first and foremost benefits the student-athletes. Which is what needs to happen.

Either way, Kansas is not the victim.

And please understand I’m not implying Kansas is guilty of anything. In no way do I believe they were aware of the payments.

I’m merely saying the vision the NCAA has in all of this non-sense is skewed and out of control.  And if there is anytime to fix that vision, it’s now.

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