NEW YORK– I haven’t covered the Adidas Trials very much, but it looks like a bigger and bigger deal for college basketball every day. Now, we’ve got a verdict: Christian Dawkins, James Gatto, and Merl Code were all found guilty of fraud. This includes payments made to players at Kansas, NC State, and Louisville, all Adidas-sponsored schools. Zion Williamson’s name appeared at a point but he and Coach K both thoroughly denied that claim and there’s evidence there to back it up so we’re not worried. However, there are multiple trials in the early months of 2019, and they should be worried from here on out. Kansas has announced that they will not allow Silvio De Sousa, whose guardian was allegedly paid by Gatto, to play until eligibility issues are cleared up, but the effects on college basketball otherwise are murky and pretty limitless.
Bleed blue. Duke vs. Ferris State: 4pm Saturday. Unfortunately, this game is literally within 30 minutes of the starting time of Duke football’s game against Pitt. What a time to be alive- you can watch both if you use two devices!
With new head coach and former Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel taking the helm at Pitt Basketball, the 0-16-in-the-ACC Panthers are no longer in mind as a new era begins in Pittsburgh. They came out with a pretty epic hype video with a tribute to the late rapper Mac Miller, who was born in Pittsburgh.
Literally. Louisville Basketball is fearing what is often referred to as the “death penalty” for the program as the FBI investigations continue, the repeat-violator legislation and worst sentence the NCAA has on hand which usually means a ban from competition of at least one season, if not more. I’m sure the NCAA is tired of the bad publicity (though Louisville only revealed their problems), and really they don’t deserve the be off the hook at all. Multiple assistant coaches are being accused of making multi-thousand dollar payments to relatives of recruits across the board for the program.
The “death penalty” has happened before: SMU Football, who was in a similar situation, was axed in the 80s when investigations found the program so riddled with corruption that the penalty had to be used. The full sentence was not carried out: had that happened, they wouldn’t have played from 1987 until 1989, amongst other worst-case punishments. However, the 1987 season was canceled and the four scheduled home games in 1988 were also eliminated. The committee said that they felt the disciplines were fully necessary because of “a program that was built on wrongdoing, deceit, and rule violations”. Only conditioning drills were allowed during the 1987 calendar year, and an existing ban on televised games and bowl games was extended to 1990. In addition, absolutely no off-campus recruiting was allowed until the August of 1988. You can read more on the scandal here, but the penalty was at the root of a twenty-year span in which SMU had just one winning season and no bowl selections until 2009. It’s widely considered one of the worst NCAA infractions and disciplinary actions to date.
“We’re looking at the death penalty, no question about it. … We’re in serious trouble.
–Jerry Eaves, former U of L player (1978-1982)
No one knows what will happen to Louisville, but we all know that the potential for it to be drastic is very, very high. Bleed blue.
Two times in a row, the NCAA refused to show an inkling of heart as twice they have vetoed an opportunity to raise money for Hurricane Florence victims. Kansas and Missouri offered to do it. What fun that would’ve been? Two teams with a storied rivalry getting together for a good cause. The NCAA decided instead to show their cold business-minded hearts and veto it. Another one: UNC and South Carolina offered to hold an exhibition game for those affected and the NCAA just straight up rejected it. They were going to meet in Charlotte, NC, at the Hornets’ Spectrum Center. Michael Jordan had agreed to it and everything. And yet, they had to come in and stop it because they don’t want their moneymakers making money for other things, even a great cause like this one. Obviously, UNC isn’t my favorite team on the court but in crises such as Florence are thrown aside and I stand with them. What an awful move.
Many big programs in NCAA Basketball look like they’re in big trouble as Brian Bowen Sr. has shed light on even more schools than the ones originally mentioned in the FBI probe- Arizona, Louisville, NC State, and Miami (all Adidas-sponsored, who is at the heart this whole thing. Brian Bowen Sr. mentioned Arizona, Creighton, Oklahoma State, and Texas for offering him thousands and thousands of dollars in order for his son, Brian Bowen II, to play at their respective schools. Bowen is now playing professionally in Australia after the turmoil at Louisville that brought down Rick Pitino made him the face of the NCAA corruption investigation (Bowen Sr. was paid $100K by Louisville). You can read more, but it’s not just the schools that anyone has mentioned that could be in big trouble: recruiting, in general, has become about the money and no school is safe. ESPN has another good article here that details the schools, coaches, players, defendants, and witnesses involved in the trial.
Thank goodness. After 37 years of RPI rankings, the NCAA is replacing the system in favor of “N.E.T.”, NCAA Evaluation Tool, which values quadrant wins more. RPI, or Rating Percentage Index, was used to help seed teams in men and women’s NCAA college basketball tournaments. It’s considered a God-given move by many, as RPI had, according to many, long expired in the college basketball world.
We all remember when Trae Young and his 3-12-in-the-second-half-of-the-season made it into the tournament soundly. Their 18-13 record was certainly aided by their four Quad-4 (bad teams, basically) wins. But they did have six Quad-1 wins (good teams, basically) that fueled their entry into the tournament (and I’m guessing CBS had a say, with Trae Young being the clickbait of television) But their eventual record of 12-13 against “good” teams was not considered tournament material. Of course, Trae Young and Co. (I don’t know the rest of their names, to be honest) were incredible in the first half of the season, rising up in the rankings to (I think) the top 5. But their descent (it was really a direct downward plunge off of a cliff) happened as soon as teams figured out that by defending Young extremely, extremely well, they could basically cut the team’s scoring in half. Young still managed to average the highest in points and assists for the year, but that certainly didn’t lead to actually winning. You can celebrate the statistics, awards, whatever all you want, but at the end of the day, it’s the score that actually counts and Oklahoma crashed and burned in that category. Oklahoma’s ranking in RPI didn’t actually help their case. Would this system have? Will this system consider events like the downfall of Oklahoma? We must wait and see.
Bleed blue. The wait for Countdown to be here is agonizing, I know, but I’ll try to keep you busy whilst we must endure the anticipation.
Despite the NCAA trying to at least make an appearance to put the students first, the reforms that the NCAA put in place yesterday were not well received by fans or organizations and participants who were reportedly blindsided by the changes. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote a report on NBA and USAB executives’ surprise at the changes, who did discuss the matter, but neither organization believed they had come to any consensus with the NCAA. USA Basketball intends to expand the sport of basketball, not confine it to “elite players” for the sake of determining who is allowed to have an agent. The organization would prefer that this job is left to the NBA instead.
Myron Metcalf spoke of his dismay on ESPN, in addition with SBNation’s Ricky O’Donnell and Duke Basketball Report’s JD King. The changes obviously attempt to address the issues that the FBI’s investigation surfaced, but do not address them. Really, all I can say is that at least they made an attempt. One major issue? Players who want to return to school must have attended the NBA Combine to be permitted to do so, which only includes a handful of players. If a player attended the NBA Combine, the player is likely to be drafted. Look at the list below:
The four players who would have been eligible to return to school this year under new rules: – Rawle Alkins (Arizona) – Trevon Duval (Duke) – Brandon McCoy (UNLV) – Malik Newman (Kansas)