Frequently I am disgusted by what I read in the news, but not near as much as when I read in Thursday’s Butler County Times Gazette that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is actively investigating college basketball programs and families of student athletes for helping families of student-athletes.
Let that sink in for a minute.
The FBI is actually using taxpayer resources to investigate a game. Not corrupt politicians. Not child molesters. Not serial killers. Not Wall Street executives robbing people’s hard earned money for their own profit, but a game played by 17-23 year old — many of which come from extreme poverty.

Frequently I am disgusted by what I read in the news, but not near as much as when I read in Thursday’s Butler County Times Gazette that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is actively investigating college basketball programs and families of student athletes for helping families of student-athletes.

Let that sink in for a minute.

The FBI is actually using taxpayer resources to investigate a game. Not corrupt politicians. Not child molesters. Not serial killers. Not Wall Street executives robbing people’s hard earned money for their own profit, but a game played by 17-23 year old — many of which come from extreme poverty.

The investigation is linked specifically to Adidas brand schools and the scapegoats for these charges are Adidas Global Marketing Director for Basketball Jim Gatto and sports agent Christian Dawkins. Gatto and Dawkins are being charged with three wire fraud counts in connection with basketball recruits for the University of Kansas, the University of Louisville and the University of Miami. Other schools are also part of the investigation but not part of the federal indictment.

The crime being committed, according to Mike Greenberg of ESPN, is the fraudulent signing of a scholarship and the victim is, get this, the school that the student athlete signed the scholarship with.

Now, I do not know the all the facts and I am by no means a legal expert but having the opinion that college athletes should receive some kind of compensation for the absurd amounts of money they generate for their universities and the National Collegiate Athletic Association with their dedication, hard work and talents; I find this to be a witch hunt.

The head scratcher is “why in the sam heck would the FBI be wasting time enforcing NCAA rules?” I honestly believe it boils down to political posturing. The opinion that college athletes should be paid is growing and growing. The NCAA is dead set against paying college athletes despite students in many other fields being able to work in their areas of study and interest and getting paid for it.

When I covered college sports for the media in college on a scholarship for an extra curricular activity there was no rule saying I couldn’t make money doing that. In fact it was encouraged to get out and make money getting real world experience in my chosen field of study. Also, no one told me I couldn’t have a job, unlike the rules for college athletes. So what make college athletes different from all other college students that participate in extra curricular activities?

It seems to me the difference is that the schools and the NCAA don’t want to share the money made on the backs, knees, ankles and more of these exceptionally talented individuals entering college to train for their chosen profession like any other college student.

The NCAA can’t be so naive that big time college sports, especially college basketball, has anything to do with education other than giving these top athletes a place to showcase their talents to the National Basketball Association, the G League and international professional basketball and to give schools name recognition to help attract more enrollment.

A solution to the problem? I think NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and controversial sports dad Lavar Ball have given that solution indirectly - the top level basketball athletes should shun colleges and enter the G League or go overseas to play professionally out of high school. Silver recently announced in an interview that the minimum age of 19 does not apply to the NBA’s minor league, the G League, and Ball led by example pulling his sons out of college and high school to play in Europe.

Maybe if more top level high school players take that option and college basketball starts to suffer from lack of top talent the NCAA will pull their heads from their keisters and change rules on compensation for college athletes.

Or just get rid of the 19-year old age requirement to play in the NBA. The G League and international professional ball generally pays significantly more than many college graduate entry level positions (if you can find one when you graduate) and gives those kids experiences the rest of us regular folks never will get a chance to have.

Really it’s the model Major League Baseball has always followed. Why is baseball different from basketball? Or any other sport besides basketball and football for that matter.

When their basketball careers are over they can count their money and then decide if they really want an education or not and pay for it themselves without living in fear of the FBI prying and prodding into their personal lives, not because they committed any crime, but because they are good at playing a game.

Think about it this way, if you grew up not knowing if you were going to have a roof, utilities or even food that day would you pass up a way to use your talents to take care of your family because it’s against the education bureaucrats’ rules?

My answer to that has always been and always will be no.

Furthermore, if anything should investigated by the FBI it should be the non-profit status of the NCAA.