There are few sporting events that match up to the fervor of March Madness. There are also few that match up to the sheer amount of revenue brought in by college basketball’s annual tournament.
The NCAA draws in over a billion dollars every year in March alone. Schools and universities across the nation sell tickets and entice recruits with postseason performance. Afterwards, the best of the best are sent off to the National Basketball Association to go make millions. Rinse and repeat.
But things are looking grim for college basketball.
First off, if you haven’t noticed the scandal quietly building, now is the time to take notice. The FBI made 10 arrests in the fall of last year, including assistant coaches at several big name schools such as Louisville.
Louisville was also in the news recently when they were forced to vacate their 2013 championship win for illegal recruiting practices. Not long after, Yahoo! Sports released documents from ASM Sports that revealed the agency was helping schools pay athletes to play, thereby breaking the rules set by the NCAA.
These documents implicated some of the biggest players on the biggest teams. Kentucky, Duke, Texas, Alabama, Auburn, North Carolina, Notre Dame and many others are listed in these documents. Louisville just lost a title, and if the experts are to be believed, they won’t be alone.
If that wasn’t enough, long ally of the NCAA, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has dealt another blow to the NCAA. This came in the way of a meeting between Adam Silver and the National Basketball Players Association. In this meet, Silver discussed changing the infamous ‘one and done’ rule to give elite high school players an alternative to college.
This is devastating to college programs whose success is predicated on five star recruits. Since the creation of the ‘one and done’ rule, no team has ever won a championship without a future first round NBA pick. Let that sink in for a moment.
Silver isn’t signing checks he can’t catch either. The most recent news comes from Syracuse. Five star recruit Darius Bazley, who was committed to playing at Syracuse, chose instead to forgo high school and go to the NBA G-League. The G-League is the NBA’s developmental league and has always been available to high school recruits.
Even though most NBA rookies will spend time in the G-League, very few true five star recruits have chosen to skip college and go this route in the past. Bazley has changed that. If other recruits follow in the footsteps of Bazley, the blue bloods of college basketball may find themselves in hot water.
Truthfully, this March has proven that the college basketball elites are already in trouble. A 16-seed beat a 1-seed for the first time in history. An 11-seed, Loyola Chicago, made it all the way to the Final Four.
Kentucky was beat in the Sweet 16, Xavier didn’t make it out of the round of 32, and neither did Michigan State.
This March has truly epitomized madness, and this may become the new normal. My best advice for any college basketball fans: it’s about time to start loving the Cinderellas.