Cal, Stan­ford ath­letic direc­tors say bribery scan­dal has no easy fix

San Francisco Chronicle - - COLLEGES - By Tom FitzGer­ald and Rusty Sim­mons Tom FitzGer­ald and Rusty Sim­mons are San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle staff writ­ers. Email: tfitzger­ald@sfchron­i­cle.com Twit­ter: @tomg fitzger­ald and rsim­mons@sfchron­i­cle.com

Col­lege bas­ket­ball’s lat­est bribery scan­dal has given the sport a black eye, but nei­ther of the Bay Area’s Pac-12 ath­letic direc­tors thinks the var­i­ous reme­dies that have been sug­gested would work.

Ten men, in­clud­ing a top Adi­das ex­ec­u­tive and four as­sis­tant coaches — two of them in the Pac-12 — were charged last month with us­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in bribes to in­flu­ence ath­letes’ choice of schools, shoe spon­sors and agents.

“This is a shame for col­lege bas­ket­ball and the im­pact is be­ing felt through­out the sport,” Cal’s Mike Wil­liams said. “We don’t know how far this reaches. … Only time will tell. My hope is that bringing these rev­e­la­tions to light will help pre­vent these types of ac­tiv­i­ties in the fu­ture for the in­tegrity of the game.”

Stan­ford’s Bernard Muir, a for­mer Brown bas­ket­ball player, in­di­cated that he be­lieved the scan­dal is more lim­ited in scope than many me­dia re­ports have sug­gested.

“It re­mains to be seen how deep this goes,” he said. “It’s cer­tainly un­for­tu­nate to the over­all col­lege bas­ket­ball ex­pe­ri­ence, but my hope is we’ll get rid of poor ac­tors and con­tinue to de­velop and en­hance the game, pro­vide the proper over­sight to make sure peo­ple are do­ing the right thing.”

On Wednesday, the NCAA an­nounced the for­ma­tion of a 14-per­son com­mit­tee to study the in­ner work­ings of col­lege bas­ket­ball. For­mer Sec­re­tary of State Con­doleezza Rice, a for­mer Stan­ford provost, will lead the com­mit­tee. For­mer Stan­ford and Cal head coach Mike Mont­gomery is a com­mit­tee mem­ber.

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors said at least three top re­cruits were promised pay­ments of as much as $150,000, us­ing money sup­plied by Adi­das, to at­tend schools spon­sored by the ath­letic-shoe com­pany. Ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press, court pa­pers con­tained enough de­tails to iden­tify the schools as Louisville and Mi­ami.

Ari­zona as­sis­tant coach Emanuel Richard­son was re­leased on $50,000 bond after ap­pear­ing in court in Tuc­son. He is al­leged to have ac­cepted $20,000 in bribes and used money to in­flu­ence at least one player to com­mit to Ari­zona.

He is also ac­cused of tak­ing money to per­suade two play­ers to choose cer­tain busi­ness man­agers. Richard­son has been sus­pended and re­lieved of du­ties.

USC as­sis­tant coach Tony Bland is ac­cused of ac­cept­ing $13,000 to help steer two play­ers to cer­tain busi­ness rep­re­sen­ta­tives. He ap­peared in fed­eral court in Tampa, Fla., on Sept. 26 and was placed on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave by USC. The school said it ap­pointed for­mer FBI Direc­tor Louis J. Freeh to con­duct an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Cal has a 10-year ath­letic ap­parel deal with Un­der Armour that is worth more than $86 mil­lion in cash and prod­uct, ac­cord­ing to school of­fi­cials. Muir would not dis­close the terms of Stan­ford’s deal with Nike. Be­cause such deals have be­come so tainted at other schools, it has been sug­gested that the NCAA should void all such agree­ments.

Muir won­dered about the le­gal­ity of void­ing such deals across the coun­try. He added that it would be very costly to Stan­ford and other schools. “That re­la­tion­ship is strong for us,” he said. “It’s been very ben­e­fi­cial to out­fit all our 900 stu­dent-ath­letes.”

All the money Stan­ford re­ceives from Nike goes di­rectly to out­fit­ting the stu­dent-ath­letes, he said. “If a ban were put in, it would be to the over­all detri­ment of the stu­dent-ath­lete ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said.

Wil­liams didn’t think that a blan­ket void­ing of ap­parel deals would be fea­si­ble. The Un­der Armour agree­ment “helps us in mean­ing­ful ways far be­yond bas­ket­ball,” he said. His depart­ment has well pub­li­cized fi­nan­cial prob­lems. “We need a di­verse rev­enue stream, and an ap­parel con­tract is a big part of that,” he said.

An­other sug­ges­tion is to re­quire bas­ket­ball play­ers to stay in col­lege at least two years. It’s the NBA that de­cided not to take col­lege play­ers un­less they stayed in school at least a year — the one-and-done rule. But some crit­ics say the NCAA should put more pres­sure on the NBA to en­act a two-andthrough rule or maybe even a three-and-free rule.

“It would be great if we could adopt a rule sim­i­lar” to Ma­jor League Base­ball’s, Muir said, “where you ei­ther de­cide out of high school that you want to start your pro­fes­sional ca­reer or, if you come to col­lege, you would spend three years here be­fore you got drafted. That would be ideal for col­lege bas­ket­ball.”

Wil­liams said, “At Cal, like other uni­ver­si­ties, we don’t re­strict other stu­dents from pur­su­ing their ca­reers be­fore they fin­ish their re­quire­ments.”

To pay play­ers would re­quire spend­ing more than $40 mil­lion just on tu­ition for a pro­gram with 900 ath­letes be­cause lim­it­ing it to men’s bas­ket­ball would never pass le­gal muster.

Muir op­poses the idea for philo­soph­i­cal rea­sons as well.

“First and fore­most, we are pro­vid­ing an ed­u­ca­tion for our young peo­ple, and we’re also pro­vid­ing them an op­por­tu­nity to com­pete at the high­est level,” he said. “I don’t see many (schools) sup­port­ing that no­tion.”

So what can schools and the NCAA do to try to pre­vent un­der-the-ta­ble pay­ments to play­ers and shoe-com­pany bribes to coaches?

“I don’t think any­one has all the an­swers at this point,” Wil­liams said, “but we owe it as a mem­ber of the NCAA to take a thor­ough look. And we owe it to our stu­dent-ath­letes not to have a sport with a hint of scan­dal.”

Mike Wil­liams

Bernard Muir

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