Sex, Drugs, and… College Basketball?

A few months ago, the University of North Carolina was slapped with five NCAA violations for “a lack of institutional control,” largely stemming from academic misconduct from 1993-2011.

This was the culmination of a scandal the likes of which hadn’t been seen since, well, a few months before when the Syracuse men’s basketball program was slapped with millions in fines and saw over 100 wins vacated for academic misconduct and a failure to enforce the school’s drug policy, which was again boiled down to ”a lack of institutional control.”

Never one to be outdone by their conference rivals, the Louisville Cardinals figured it was time to step up their game and bring on a scandal bigger and badder than anything ESPN’s headline writers could have dreamed of.

On Friday night, the Indianapolis based IBJ Book Publishing LLC published a book by a Louisville escort named Katina Powell titled “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen.”  In it, Powell claims that Andre McGee—former director of basketball operations for Louisville—paid her and her co-workers to strip for and have sex with players on the team, along with recruits who were in town on official visits.  Alongside her bold claims, Powell has produced text conversations between her and McGee, which clearly denote some sort of shady business deal taking place.

Since being made aware of the scandal some time in August, Louisville has handled the situation about as well as can be expected, working with both the NCAA and a private investigator to uncover what truth, if any, lies behind these allegations. Regardless, this serves to highlight a much more significant problem: the seemingly systemic corruption throughout the NCAA.  

If you look on the NCAA’s home page, one of the first things you will see in big, bold lettering is the claim that “Student-athlete success on the field, in the classroom and for life is at the heart of our mission.”  Given the acts of these institutions (and many others like them), you’d be hard pressed to convince me that their mission is anything more than the mission of most businesses you come across—to make money.

If this case holds to past models, I wouldn’t hold my breath for a decision any time soon. Any sort of sanction from the NCAA could take months, if not years, to be settled on.  Whenever they decide to wrap this case up, perhaps it’s time for the NCAA to take a closer look at their own operations.  

If these scandals popping up every few months don’t display a lack of institutional control, I don’t know what does.