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ISSUE 116 VOL 15 PUBLISHED 3/21/2003

Unrest in March leads to Madness

By Julie Gunderson
News Editor

Friday, March 21, 2003

Nothing seems to be right in the land of college basketball these days. It has been a season marred by scandal off the court and marked by parity on it. Tarkanian-like ethics abound in this Woodenesque game. Those oh-so-smug Blue Devils are appallingly lacking their accustomed number one seeding, an insult they haven’t suffered since 1997. And to further demonstrate the pandemonium of our times, in the event hostilities break out in the Middle East CBS is threatening to toss Jim Nance and Billy Packer into a throng of screaming adolescent girls craving their Carson Daly-MTV fix. The calendar shows that March is upon us, signaling that order is bound to be restored in the ensuing madness of hoops mania. But even polished dance floors, shining bright lights and a cast of Cinderellas all dressed to the nines can’t cover up the black eye of college basketball. The escape of insanity isn’t enough to exorcise the demons from the game. The sport at the top of the college athletic food chain is in desperate need of an overhaul, or at least a plastic surgeon willing to perform a face-lift. What is it that got us to this point? How did we go from lovable father-son tandems like, Father-Knows-Best Homer Drew and everybody’s-favorite-son Bryce, to the devious duo of Harricks corrupting basketball youth? How did we go from the wisdoms of the Wizard of Westwood instructing players on the proper technique of putting on a sock to university presidents training athletes on how to validate bogus degrees in the taxing academic area of welding? It’s an era of college basketball where boosters fork over money to blue-chip recruits and assistants hand out A’s to athletes who couldn’t even tell you what a textbook looks like. Cash on the side and academic fraud have become routine perks for a generation of athletes that know no concept of what it means to be a student-athlete. Tournament time offers NCAA officials an opportunity to showcase the game’s finest attributes – storylines that make your heart melt, upsets that keep you on the edge of your seat, and the insatiable come-from-behind flurries that leave you begging for more. We would be remiss, however, to let the vile scandals of college basketball be replaced by the fleeting euphoria that comes with Cinderella sweethearts dancing their way into our living rooms. The Weber States of the world can’t clean up this mess. In fact you would be hard pressed to find anyone that could. It’s no secret that the evils we see in today’s game are nothing new. Published point spreads, coaches desperate to win at all costs, and everyone making millions off the cash cow of college basketball except for the athletes that play the game have made the terrain of colligate athletics ripe for corruption. Officials would be wise to address the ethical concerns of the sport in a comprehensive manner rather than simply punishing visible offenders and letting the rest of the game’s scumbags slip through the cracks. What happens if they don’t? The state of college basketball could become more maddening then ever.

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