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Corruption in college basketball

Cami Hunter, Sports Editor

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When men’s college basketball season rolls around, teams have one goal in mind: getting to the NCAA Tournament. College basketball hits its peak during the month of March, which is commonly referred to as “March Madness” in the world of sports. With the amount of emphasis put on getting to the “Big Dance”, it becomes crucial for teams to recruit the best high school athletes to play for their school. The recruiting process is essential to the competitive nature of college basketball, but when unethical actions are taken to encourage players to attend certain schools, it makes people wonder, where is the line drawn?

Last week, scandal surfaced amongst many men’s college basketball teams.The University of Louisville was one of the many schools under federal scrutiny for alleged misconduct. The Cardinal’s athletic programs are sponsored by the renowned sports brand Adidas. Evidence found by government entities indicated that the head coach of Louisville, Rick Pitino, collaborated with Jim Gatto, Adidas executive, to funnel money to the family of a five-star basketball recruit, Brian Bowen in hopes he would commit to play basketball for Louisville.

The corruption that took place within the Louisville men’s basketball program has resulted in many detrimental consequences. Head coach, Pitino was fired by a unanimous vote conducted by Louisville’s Athletic Association Board. The school’s athletic director, Tom Jurich, was put on indefinite unpaid leave, and freshman standout Bowen is now ineligible from playing basketball for the Cardinals. Bowen has hired a lawyer and is refusing to answer any questions pertaining to the issue, but in interviews with ESPN Pitino has voiced, “I had no knowledge of any payments to any recruit or their family.”

Going into the upcoming basketball season, the Louisville Cardinals were projected to be ranked within the top ten teams in the nation, but as ESPN staff writer Myron Medcalf stated, “By Thursday morning, Louisville fans had lost their legendary coach, a five-star prospect, an athletic director, and their sanity for the second time in three years.”

Fraud isn’t the only scandal that has plagued the reputation of the Cardinal’s basketball program recently. In 2015, Louisville’s basketball team was under investigation by the NCAA because it used sexual appeals in order to recruit potential players.This led to a year-long postseason ban, meaning the team would not be allowed to play in any tournaments upon the conclusion of the regular season. During this scandal, Pitino vowed to remain the head coach while, “investigators do their job and we play basketball.” But this time around, Pitino couldn’t escape the grasp scandal took on his basketball program.

The University of Louisville is only one example of scandal within the college basketball recruiting process. This is likely the beginning of a very prominent issue that will continue to be further investigated throughout all of college basketball. When morality is tossed aside because of the competitive nature of college basketball, it is necessary to ask where is the line drawn?

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Corruption in college basketball