In the wake of a wide-ranging FBI investigation into corruption in college athletics, the NCAA is at a crossroads. While the investigation is currently limited to some of the major programs in college basketball, it’s likely just the tip of the iceberg as far as secret and illicit payments in college sports goes. The system is broken. Everyone knows it’s broken. Even Barack Obama has been outspoken about how the current NCAA model is unsustainable.
Nevertheless, although the problems are easily identifiable, very few people seem to have a way out of it. How does change actually happen?
Former Michigan Fab Fiver Jalen Rose has a radical idea that just might work in leading the NCAA to actually change its ways: an NCAA Tournament boycott.
Rose made his comments on the Jalen & Jacoby show on ESPN where he said that players have an extraordinary amount of power when it comes to March Madness and that it would be the perfect opportunity to finally make a statement.
Rose is no stranger to strong and controversial takes. You may remember a few years ago his comments about Grant Hill and other Duke players being an “Uncle Tom” around the release of ESPN’s Fab Five documentary.
A boycott of the NCAA Tournament by players would be one of the biggest sports stories ever. There are millions of viewers and millions of dollars invested invested in March Madness. Make that billions of dollars if you’re counting the rights deal with CBS and Turner. It’s not just one of the biggest events in sports, it’s a cultural phenomenon that draws in people who aren’t even sports fans through office pools around the country.
The NCAA is happy to continue their unjust system of employing athletes without paying them as long as their bottom line isn’t affected. We’ve heard the lame excuse from everyone at the top of the system how it’s impossible to pay players because there just isn’t enough money in spite of that obviously not being true. (See: coaches and their ridiculous multi-million dollar buyout clauses.)
There aren’t too many things that would lead to sudden change in college athletics. As Jacoby points out in the video above, it was pretty much business as usual for college basketball this weekend with a few players sitting out and the extreme case of Sean Miller not coaching at Arizona. College basketball just might be able to survive an FBI investigation with some slaps on the wrist here and there like wins vacated and show cause penalties.
But an NCAA Tournament boycott? That would lead to immediate change. Of course, it’d be practically next-to-impossible to get a boycott coordinated with 68 teams across the country between Selection Sunday and the first tip of the tournament. But it sure would get the job done.