March Madness is looked at as one of the greatest sporting events of the year. It combines great play, underdogs felling giants, fantastic venues, devoted fans, and competition galore ... but this year it offers something else: an abject lesson in the failure of ethical conduct of the very institutions engaging in March Madness.
For those who may not follow college basketball, the sport was rocked by the arrests of multiple assistant coaches, sports apparel executives, and agents to high school and college basketball players. There were multiple arrests and allegations of bribe payments of up to $100,000 to direct star high school players to certain universities and agents. There was even dismissal of a two-time NCAA champion head coach. The NCAA has promised a thorough investigation, but it has rather amazingly cleared all those it has taken the time to consider in the past few weeks. The reason is clear: money. Huge money and lots of it.
One report noted that the NCAA has over a billion reasons to look the other way—as in over $1 billion in revenue from college basketball. The television rights alone account for more than $800 million annually. Of course, you might wonder how much of that revenue the players receive, and that answer is easy: a big fat zero.
The NCAA is, of course, run as a member organization by its constituent universities and colleges. They certainly have no interest in changing a system that pays them literally billions of dollars—one where they don't have to pay the players anything. When you consider, too, that coaches are almost always paid more than university presidents, you begin to see how bad things really are and how little the NCAA wants anything to stop or even slow down this cash cow.
Four programs that have been linked in this most recent version of the pay-to-play scandal are Michigan State, Duke, North Carolina, and Kentucky. The Man From FCPA wonders if they will meet in the Final Four.