Money, money, money—that is what it’s all about these days in pro and college sports with gambling being permitted across the United States. Sports’ integrity is really being challenged.
Last week, Kevin Warren, commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, was in town. It was his first visit since taking over as the first Black commissioner of any sports organization, pro or college, during a time of transition.
No major college conference generates more revenue than the Big Ten, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Since expanding to 14 schools, adding hockey and Notre Dame as another major revenue sport, and with the ability to market and present games virtually over 70 percent of the United States on the Big Ten television Network, the ACC, SEC or PAC 10 conferences are in the Big Ten’s rearview mirror when it comes to generating revenue.
Today the NCAA, the governing body of college sports, is preparing to allow athletes in football and basketball to transfer once without penalty. Why? They realize that after 100 years of revenue generation and building schools’ programs across America, the term “student-athlete” means two things.
Recently, former Penn University basketball coach Jerome Allen accepted $250,000 from the father of a prospect to train, recruit and place him on an athletic list. The coach was later fired and Penn University placed on two years’ probation.
College basketball is taking a lot of hits lately. Number-one Kansas Head Coach Bill Self is feeling the heat of an FBI wiretap investigation. Kansas still has not responded to the charges. They could win the National Championship at the Final Four, which would really put the NCAA in a bind.
One of the nation’s top NBA prospects is James Wiseman, once at Memphis where Coach Penny Hardaway was his AAU coach and helped him financially. Wiseman decided to skip college ball altogether after being suspended. It’s no secret that the NCAA is feeling the heat.
They are not ready to vote on any rule proposals that address whether college athletes can eventually profit off their name, image and likeness. Legal pressure is all around us; legislation is headed to the U.S. Congress.
Warren being in his position will face challenges: How will he lead and what will his input be in directing the Big Ten, the nation’s number-one revenue generator, in the face of these challenges? With 1,100 member schools, it’s not possible to implement drastic change without input from the schools.
We are about to see how serious the NCAA is about really changing. They have never volunteered before, but with widespread cheating and violations everywhere you can count on 2020 bringing long-overdue changes.