As the first of three trials that will examine the corruption of college basketball begins to come to a close, what’s next for the NCAA and college basketball? Arguments wrapped up Tuesday and now a jury of 12 will determine if James Gatto, Merl Code, and Christian Dawkins are guilty of what the government calls conspiracies to funnel payments to recruits or their families. Over the next few days the fate of Gatto, Code, and Dawkins will be determined in court, but what about the fate of college basketball and the NCAA?
NCAA president Mark Emmert told Dan Wolken USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday, “We’re tracking it very closely and obviously very, very interested in it. Doing everything to cooperate with the federal investigators so that we don’t in any way hinder them and as the opportunity arises, as the trials move forward, we’ll begin our work. But for now we’re watching and staying in close contact. Emmert added, “We know fully what’s going on in the courtroom at all times.”
The federal government interjected itself into the underworld of college basketball, but unless the NCAA takes meaningful steps to clean up its own act, what change will really come out of the court proceedings?
The fact remains the NCAA, whether it wants to admit it or not is on the clock.
As Wolken pointed out, the Association now has the ability to import evidence from outside investigations. So will it? That remains to be seen. But if the NCAA wants its members and the public to believe it is serious about cleaning up corruption, Emmert’s group must act and they must act soon.
Based on information learned in court over the last few weeks, the NCAA must open investigations into every allegation, big or small that has come to light, and they need to do it in a very public way. Yes, this process might take a while, but none the less it is a process that must be followed up.
The NCAA must act, and they must act now.