March Madness Under A Cloud Of Suspicion

The NCAA basketball tournament will be played during an ongoing FBI investigation into illegal payments to student-athletes

March Madness Under A Cloud Of Suspicion

Zachary Velez, Junior High Editor

As teams gear up for yet another NCAA basketball tournament, and people fill out their brackets, the NCAA and colleges will make close to a billion dollars on the highly anticipated three-week event. Television networks still fight for the rights to show these games to the public. Even smaller conferences have multi-million dollar deals with ESPN. But that is not the only way the NCAA makes money. It also sells player jerseys and other team paraphernalia. And at the bottom of this money-making tree are the student-athletes. They are the primary reason why people watch these games. Yes, most of them receive a full scholarship. But they do not get any other financial benefit.

A year-long investigation by the FBI is questioning whether some of the most high-profile colleges in the country may have offered payments to their prized recruits. The case has already cost Louisville’s Rick Pitino his job. This has led to speculation that maybe players have been paid from a variety of sources. The scholarships are valuable, but when you realize just how much money is being made, you have to question, where is all that money going?

Now, I am not saying that every player deserves to be paid. But the system must be reevaluated to be fairer to all of the players involved. Could some of the top players be given interest-free loans in advance of their professional careers? In basketball, we now know who the best college players are, the ones who everyone is turning on the television to see. Those who will only play one year of college before turning pro. Rumors that Arizona’s Sean Miller offered star recruit DeAndre Ayton $100,000 to attend his school received a lot of attention. Even though it now appears that he did not make this offer, the fact is that Ayton is going to make A LOT more than that next year. Does the NBA have to get rid of the rule requiring players to stay in college for one year before turning pro?

It seems that this scandal is going to lead to several reforms for the immediate future. But for now, even with all of this controversy, fans will still be excited to see who the first cinderella team to upset a top seed will be. We are ready for the underdogs, the buzzer beaters and the cutting down of the nets. Enjoy the games as this might be the last Final Four tournament before major changes take place.