Two more days and the folks at TBS, CBS, and the other TV people who have been displaying a spectacular show for the public for the past three weeks, can exhale.
Two more days and the NCAA can breathe a sigh of relief–for now.
No “breaking news” headlines of potential scandals of rules violations which could bring up the topic of suspensions, sanctions and the dreaded word “”vacated ” appears to be on the immediate horizon. Although, there is still time for the folks at Yahoo or ESPN to post a story that could again shake the foundation of college basketball.
No, it’s been three weeks of calm waters (scandal wise) in the billion dollar entity known as the NCAA basketball tournament. Great games, great story lines and, beginning on Saturday night in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Tx. a Final Four with just the right combination of blue bloods–Michigan, Kansas, Villanova–and Cinderella, Loyola (Chicago).
A season in which few things have been predictable over the past four and a half months, has given the sport the booster shot it needed.
It didn’t look that way a month ago when the headlines were filled with the FBI poking into an area normally reserved for the NCAA infractions committee. Big name coaches such as Rick Pitino at Louisville and Sean Miller at Arizona were headline makers in a sport in which the entire system was being labeled as tainted at best and corrupt at worst.
The word in the locker rooms and athletic offices was that there was more to come. Much more. No one, not programs such as Michigan State, Duke, Kansas or USC, was immune.
The NCAA admitted there was a problem with the system. So did many Hall of Fame caliber coaches. Left unspoken in the executive offices of CBS and the NCAA was a quiet plea to keep a lid on this until another season of March Madness had run its course.
Negative headlines in April, May and June, had much less of a bite than those generated in March.
And nothing has happened–publicly.
Now what? The issues of booster and AAU influence has not disappeared. Recruiting at the highest level continues. Presumably, the FBI, which has a power that the NCAA does not (jail time) continues to gather information.
The question is when will the next headline be created? Which program or coach will have to explain a conversation recorded on an wiretap?
Of the teams playing this weekend, only Kansas was mentioned as having an issue with possible rules violations and those were quickly denied by Kansas coach Bill Self.
The NCAA said it was equally dismayed when the story first surfaced last fall. “”When the Southern District of New York came forward with their charges and allegations around the scandals of basketball recruiting and bribery, we were all, I think, pretty dismayed by the nature of the facts that were laid out,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert at his annual State of the NCAA Final Four press conference earlier this week.
“”Everyone had heard rumors, of course, about that kind of behavior and the business had swirled around everyone. But nobody had seen it displayed as starkly as it was in the findings of the investigation.”
The NCAA reacted by putting together its own fact finding board, Chaired by former United States Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
That investigation is ongoing. Now we wait to see what happens.
No one is saying the findings will be good. Changes will be made, people will be implicated.
But right now, it looks like the Final Four will be spared a non-basketball related firestorm of controversy.
What the landscape of college basketball looks like six months from now is another matter.