The dark side of college athletics

The Bible tells us that what is done in the dark will eventually come to light. With that being said, amateurism in college athletics have left the train station. Pimps and prostitution are now on board the choo-choo train.

Innocence, integrity and moral values got off the platform a long time ago. Money, sex, booze, fraud and scandal are now the conductors. If you are a college recruit on a campus visit, feel free to pick up your ticket anytime.

Your school will take care of you…and by any means necessary. This appears to be the calling card of the University of Louisville’s basketball program where the party doesn’t stop at a potential recruit’s wide-eyed excitement of possibly having face-time on the basketball court. It extends further. Allegedly, it has gone past the girl on campus as host to recruits to a madam putting down strip jaunts and holding sex parties to show these young boys a good time.

And now, this madam, Katina Powell, has a book “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” that details these alleged good times from 2010 to 2014.

If this stunning revelation turns out to be validated as the truth, I wonder if Jay-Z had this in mind when he made his magahit song “Big Pimpin?” College coaches are paid millions of dollars just to bring a national championship trophy home.

They’re also paid a lot of money to influence-good or bad-the social and academic development of someone else’s child. Louisville basketball players, allegedly, get other perks to ensure they bring that piece of hardware back to campus.

The Cardinals are not the first and will not be the last school to be hit with a scandal that further embellishes the word amateur that is often associated with college athletes. That has been a longtime farce for those us who know better.

Virgina Cavalier Quarterback Matt Johns under pressure by Bruins. Photo by Jevone Moore
The bulk of revenue generated by college athletics come in the form of college football. Photo by Jevone Moore

Nowadays a scandal, whether its done through academic cheating, with an assistant football coach having sex with young boys, or a football coach lying to cover up an ongoing affair he carried on with a young school staffer, will align itself in the steps of greed, arrogance, power and a bit of haughtiness.

More money simply means more problems. The NCAA and the world that is seen publicly as college athletics have seen more than its share of that the past few years.  Name a big-time athletic program and the word scandal just might fit the unfortunate association label with the school. Miami. Penn State. SMU. Kentucky. Memphis. North Carolina. Minnesota. Notre Dame. Baylor. Southern California. The list goes on.

What has happened recently at SMU, Syracuse, University of Louisville and Southern California is not an abbreviation. It certainly has left a black eye on college athletics.  But this is the mess that is college athletics today. The mothers and fathers sending their babies off to college for an education probably don’t have a clue that their child is about to get schooled in another different way.

That’s because the more money that is passed along to these universities for their sports programs and their gigantic sports facilities speaks to the very least aura of corruption. It’s time to quit faking the funk about college athletics and speak the truth about this minor league sports system. Student-athletes are very much like workers or rather employees of the university in a lot of ways.

Division I men's basketball is also a big contributor to the revenue pool of college athletics. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com
Division I men’s basketball is also a big contributor to the revenue pool of college athletics. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

Student-athletes show up for work on time (sports) every day. They do their dance by staying in line within NCAA rules, and in some twisted, brain-washing, manipulative way, get paid for their performance with free tuition and books while universities make millions off of their backs. Gee, thanks.

Let’s look at some numbers: Just in total revenue alone, Alabama  collected $123, 769, 841 in monies for its sports programs.  Man, that’s a lot of dough. During that year, the Crimson Tide spent $1, 029, 523 dollars in recruitment of student-athletes, according to a report published by ESPN. During the 2011-2012 school calendar year, the NCAA raked in $871.6 million as a nonprofit organization.

It gets better. According to the Department of Education, the University of Texas raked in a little more than $109 million in college football revenue during the 2012-2013 school year.

Those numbers got bumped up to just over $161 million in 2014. But the Alpha Dog in sports revenue collecting is the University of Oregon, which stands alone atop the college athletics banking machine with over $196 million in revenue last year, according to a USA Today NCAA Finances report.

College sports has become more about the glitz and glam. Money is the chief operator. It has become a financial shakedown of the student-athlete. Student-athletes are nearly deprived of their civil liberties while on an athletic scholarship. Meanwhile, coaches have the audacity to show up to work plastered with alcohol, become reckless enough to fraternize with staff employees looking to get a jumpstart on their professional careers or allegedly hire strippers to tap into a recruit’s body and soul.

We play moral mind games with these young men and young women for them to be on the path of the straight and narrow while doing our dirt.

This whole notion that these young men and women are still amateurs while grown folks rip them off by making money off of their likeness is defrauding them of their intellectual property rights. Since when, in a free market, a capitalistic society, can a school-public or private-have ownership to a person’s likeness except in college sports?

Where is this mandate on any other university employee? How does the janitor cleaning up a college dorm feel? Are they stripped of their potential to make money because of their job position? I think not. The train wreck that is college athletics continues to come off the train tracks.

When will the nonsense end? Probably not until the powers that be within the parameters of the NCAA, Congress and proponents for change actually do something about it. Student-athletes are human. They want to have fun just like their 40 or 50-year-old coach who is getting drunk somewhere or having sex with a woman on the floor of a public restaurant.

Is this really the college experience we want our young people to mimic? Why are we fronting?

The fall of college athletics as we know it is on our front door. The NCAA can no longer straddle the fence of preaching amateurism in one sentence while acting as a bill collector looking for monetary payment in the next breath. You can’t have it both ways. It’s time that this train head on out to the next station.

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1057 Articles
Dennis covers the NFL (San Diego Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). As a professional journalist, Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a graduate of Howard University.

1 Comment

  1. The amount of money that major college football programs are making is staggering. To apply amateur status to the talented players who are doing the hard work that reaps these universities tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars is a farce. It’s a business. Maybe players should be considered students AND professionals. Or… create a minor league football system.

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