The ugly underbelly of college sports and the muck and shady dealings that go into recruiting Student Athletes.

College athletics–especially football and basketball–has a lot of explaining to do.

What, with the FBI and the charges brought by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York probing the wrongdoings, we have already seen the firing of Hall of Fame coach — Rick Pitino, now formerly of Louisville.

Many more coaches will fall for their part in passing over BIG money to the recruits on behalf of sneaker companies. Already, former N. C. State coach Mark Gottfried has been implicated with not onece but twice providing assistant coach Orlando Early envelopes with money for Dennis Smith Jr.’s family to secure his commitment to N.C. State.

And just recently LSU suspended its basketball coach Will Wade who was taped by the FBI discussing a recruiting offer with Christian Dawkins then known as a middleman for sneaker company Adidas for a freshman guard’s commitment. (The recruit is Javonte Smart currently a freshman guard at LSU).

We see the BIG money in a lot of forms. For example Coach “K” of Duke basketball fame makes millions annually (outside of his $10 million salary) to put NIKE shoes on his players. Duke is, after-all, a NIKE school. If you don’t believe there is  serious relationship between something as simple as putting on a sneaker, a jersey with a swoosh, look what happened to NKE stock when Duke phenom Zion Williamson sneaker blew up and contributed to his injury that my end his college one-year career.

What these companies want –and why Merl Code, former Adidas executive James Gatto, and business manager Christian Dawkins are deep criminal trouble– from the coaches is BRAND LOYALTY of their payers. This takes the form of getting the player and parents to the university where the shoe company (e.g, Adidas; Nike; Puma etc) “sponsor” both the coaches and the university by paying them huge sums of money. (2) Then, when the players after one year start their move to the NBA, they will sign with “agents” to represent them to specific teams.

Caught up in all of this mess are the “exploited” players. Most, if not all, of the players are Black. And, most, if not all, of the coaches are white.

A remedy for fixing the ugliness of college sports is to begin to reward/award student-athletes what I term THE FULL RIDE that is, paying for all costs associated with attending a specific school. (This would include, but not be limited to, tuition and feels, room and board, books, meal plans, and other expensive that all students have).  Understanding, though, that some parts of the country are more expensive to live in than others.

Selected References

Bryant, Howard. 2018.The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism. NY: Beacon Press.

Edwards, Harry. 1969. The Revolt of the Black Athlete. NY: Free Press.

Shaw, Gary. 1972. Meat on the Hoof: The Hidden World of Texas Football. NY: St. Martins Press.

Smith, Earl. 2014. Race, Sport and the American Dream. NC: Carolina Academic Press.

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