Alabama Basketball: NCAA USC decision no sign of penalties for other schools

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports /

Few Alabama Basketball fans continue to pay close attention to the current, extended saga of NCAA enforcement against rules-braking college basketball programs. That is understandable since the mess tracks back to an FBI investigation that became public in the fall of 2017.

Scores of stories have been written about the sordid dealings in college basketball. Prominent coaches have been exposed. More than a dozen college basketball programs have been implicated including Alabama Basketball.

Ten men were arrested in the FBI sting. Two Adidas executives and a runner for an  NBA players-agent were indicted and convicted. Four assistant coaches pleaded guilty to bribery in various schemes to financially benefit themselves off the future earning power of players. The NCAA levied ‘show-cause penalties against the assistants: Chuck Person (Auburn); Lamont Evans (South Carolina and Oklahoma State); Emanuel Richardson (Arizona) and Anthony Bland (USC). Two head coaches have suffered. Sean Miller and Rick Pitino lost their jobs. Neither one has admitted any guilt and Pitino, as Alabama basketball fans are well aware, is a college head coach again.

Alabama Basketball is on NCAA probation because a former staffer, Kobie Baker attempted to financially benefit from steering a player’s family to a future financial advisor. Details of that probation and the ‘show cause’ Baker received are available here.

A primary reason Alabama Basketball was not given a post-season ban or other severe penalties was the quick internal investigation done by the school and full disclosure and cooperation with the NCAA.

In the recent penalties placed on USC, there was also no post-season ban. The NCAA statement on the USC penalties is revealing.

"Despite the former (USC) associate head coach’s underlying violations, the committee noted that unlike other individuals in similar cases, he met his obligation when he participated in the NCAA investigation and provided information relevant to the investigation. The committee also noted that the school displayed exemplary cooperation and self-imposed significant and meaningful penalties in line with the NCAA membership’s penalty guidelines."

Bama Hammer provides the bolded font from the statement to highlight what was so revealing. Many college basketball fans saw the NCAA penalty on USC and concluded the school got off easy. That opinion reinforced a powerful belief NCAA  enforcement is too weak to severely punish blatant rules violators.

Alabama Basketball has no NCAA problems

Several schools are still under investigation, including Arizona, Kansas, LSU and Auburn. The recent NCAA statement should worry LSU and Auburn. Cooperating with NCAA on investigations has not been the strategy on the Plains or in Baton Rouge. That is particularly true about Will Wade and LSU.

Perhaps the NCAA will fail in enforcement again. Or just maybe, it will make a strong statement by heavily punishing one or more schools. If the NCAA wants to punish the most guilty the most severely, LSU is the most likely target.

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Alabama basketball fans are celebrating the good fortune from Nate Oats rebuilding the program. Credit should also go to the Athletic Department in its handling of the Kobie Baker mess and also to Anthony Grant and Avery Johnson for being nothing like Will Wade or Bruce Pearl.