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The first of four college basketball coaches caught up in a FBI sting known as “Varsity Blues” was sentenced last week in federal court.  Tony Bland, a former assistant coach at USC will not serve any jail time for taking $4,100 in exchange for steering a player toward an agent after turning pro; proving once again that crime does, in fact, pay. 

Christian Dawkins was the agent that paid Tony Bland the $4,100 bride for the coach’s assistant in getting players to sign with his sports management company; Dawkins will be home in time for his family’s Labor Day barbecue since he was only sentenced to six months in March.  Without knowing how much money Dawkins made over the years from how many players, do you think that he would do things all over again and take the chance that he would lose six months of his life after getting caught this time around? 

Many people like former Indiana head coach Bobby Knight will tell you that the great college basketball teams coached by John Wooden at UCLA had people behind the scenes taking care of the players during their time on campus.  As long as there are people out there with talent, there will be people looking to make money off of them, and sometimes to do so, they need to make an early “investment” believing there will be a bigger payoff down the road.

As talk of the NCAA finally willing to change some of their rules preventing players from earning money and hiring agents and advisors, perhaps, over time, the number of people who are caught up in scandals like this will go down.  My faith in people, however, is not that strong. I think there will always be a way, always be something that someone wants or needs that someone else can provide for them to allow an agent to get their hooks into a player.  And sadly, there is always this other thing called blackmail, another way a person with no scruples can get others to do what they want.  Again, there is way too much money surrounding college sports to think people won’t find a way to move the players around like checkers on a board. How these people are able to pull it off might change, but the end game never will.

I hope when the NBA and its Players Association lower the age for players to enter the league’s draft they keep in mind how much help each of those 18 year olds are going to need with situations they have never faced before, and take the time to educate them. While also warning them of the dangers they are soon to face once they have a few dollars in their pocket.

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