Wow, sports fans are a jaded bunch. A recent poll asked whether or not fans believed that college sports programs regularly broke NCAA rules when recruiting or training athletes, and these were the results.
Are you ready for March Madness in Columbus? Our special section on the NCAA tournament debuted today, and it includes everything you need to know to prepare your bracket, keep up with the Buckeyes and the rest of NCAA basketball, and gear up for games to be played here at Nationwide Arena Friday and Sunday.
“I can’t wait to play in New York. Watching the movie ‘He Got Game’ got me really excited about playing there.” - Ricardo Gathers, the No. 43 overall player in the ESPNU 100, committed to coach Steve Lavin and St. John’s over LSU, Syracuse, Texas and Arizona on Saturday.
Last week we predicted Butler University would win the tournament, on the basis of our academic performance bracket. The team has a perfect 1000 academic progress rate, which is a measure of the team’s performance in keeping athletes in good academic standing and on track for graduation, calculated by the NCAA. (If athletes leave, say for the NBA, it doesn’t hurt the school’s score as long as they’re in good standing when they leave.) The NCAA takes the APR score seriously enough that if a team maintains an average below 925 — the score that corresponds to roughly a 50 percent graduation rate — over several years it faces sanctions like reductions in playing time and losing scholarship slots.
“Money and March Madness,” an inside look at the multi-billion dollar business of the NCAA and its brand of amateur college sports. In this investigation, correspondent Lowell Bergman gains access to Sonny Vaccaro, a former marketing executive at Nike, Adidas, and Reebok who helped bring about the rapid commercialization of college basketball. Vaccaro’s success made coaches, administrators, and companies rich. But the players remain at the mercy of the NCAA, which, despite a new $10.8 billion contract for its basketball tournament, has continued to insist that the athletes don’t get paid. Now, Vaccaro has left the business world and he’s spearheading a class-action lawsuit that aims to ensure that players get a piece of the action.
PBS and HBO will be stirring up trouble this week, as both networks are slated to run programs that ask, “Why aren’t college players getting paid?” The PBS one is on Frontline Tuesday at 9 pm, and features Sonny Vaccaro; the HBO one is Wednesday night on Bryant Gumble’s show. It appears as if HBO will be getting all investigative, as it attempts to follow “The Money Trail.
Q: Steve, as a West Coast guy how do you characterize New York after a year?
St. John’s Coach Steve Lavin: It’s intoxicating because of the energy, the people, the culture. The diversity is such that when you get up in the morning and you hit the pavement there’s this kinda rush, vital signs go north in a hurry. And I find that part exhilarating. It’s got so much vitality. And then in terms of the love of basketball in New York, it’s at such a high point that if your a coach it’s a good fit.
After suffering a pair of difficult losses in this weekend’s Big East Tournament—a 79-73 defeat to Syracuse, and senior D.J. Kennedy to a season-ending knee injury—St. John’s prospects in the NCAA tournament are … mixed. The team is still good enough to make a run deep into the tournament, even without Kennedy, but their most significant challenge could be their first-round game.