My father attended to the University of Louisville for a while, and he was a proud Louisville boy, so the recent fall of the school’s famous basketball coach has a homey ring for me. Fortunately, my father had little use for big time college sports and if he followed college basketball or the fortunes of his old school, he never passed an interest in hoops to me. Mark that as one more thing to be grateful to Dad for. For decades, my lack any rooting interest in college basketball and college football has been driven by the knowledge that they are both malign corrupting influences on higher education, students, athletes, African-Americans, communities, the sports media, and the nation’s culture. The amazing thing is that the sports don’t even hide it very well.
If you are not aware of the recent college recruitment scandal coming out of Louiville, here’s a short summary. Rick Pitino is perhaps the most famous college men’s basketball coach, and maybe the most celebrated college sports coach generally now that Joe Paterno is gone. (Here’s how closely I follow college sports: there was a time when I thought Pitino and Paterno were the same person, as in “You say Paterno, and I say Pitino…!”—which is ridiculous: Pitino is a cheat, and Paterno let children be molested so he could save his football program from bad publicity.) Pitino was placed on unpaid administrative leave after the school learned that he was a target of an FBI investigation into fraud and corruption. Yesterday, CBS identified Pitino as the “Coach-2” who played a role in funneling $100,000 to a U of L basketball recruit. That player is Brian Bower, and the 1oo grand came from Adidas “at the request of a coach,” apparently Pitino. In case you are really a college sports virgin, the NCAA has strict rules against paying athletes or offering them money to come to a school, unless the money is in the form of a phony scholarship that has nothing to do with education.
The key thing to remember is that nobody is really surprised. Well, nobody is surprised when any big time college football or college coach is caught in recruiting scandals, but Pitino has been involved in several scandals throughout his career: Continue reading