The corruption and bribery scandal surrounding college basketball has cast a pall over the upcoming season, even in the eyes of Dick Vitale, perhaps the sport’s biggest proponent.

“I’m fed up with this,” Vitale said in a phone interview with USA Today. “I love the game and care about it so much. It just frustrates me. …

“You want to get excited this time of the year,” he added. “ … But hanging on your back like a thousand pound weight is what the FBI is going to do.”

In fact, the controversy is turning some college hoops fans toward the NBA, Vitale said anecdotally. 

“You want to be able to talk about the game in a positive way. But I’m out at lunch yesterday, and a guy says, ‘Man, I’ll just follow the NBA now Dick because they give them the cash, they play,’” he said. “How can I argue? It’s frustrating because it’s a topic that is going to dominate the college scene until this comes to a conclusion.”

While Vitale calls the notion that he’s an apologist for his coaching brethren “so unfair it’s unreal,” he said he believes recently-ousted Louisville coach Rick Pitino was not aware one of his assistants facilitated a $100,000 payment from Adidas to the family of Brian Bowen in exchange for the recruit’s commitment to the Cardinals basketball program.

To clean up the sport going forward, Vitale said, “The NCAA needs a wakeup call, and they have to spend their money. They need to get those sleazy characters away from being involved in the game, and they need to finance summer camps. Pay to bring the kids in, utilize high school coaches. Spend your millions on that, and I think we could see some positives. But talk is talk. We’ve got to clean this damn thing up. It doesn’t start with committees. It starts with action.”

It’s no secret the NCAA is facing difficult times with the recent basketball scandals between the University of Louisville and North Carolina, but now NCAA president Mark Emmert is concerned about the public’s confidence in college sports. 

Emmert spoke Monday at a meeting of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and shared what could be considered alarming data collected by the NCAA.

The findings showed 79 percent of people polled believe big schools put money ahead of student-athletes, 69 percent considered those universities more of a problem than the solution and 51 percent said the NCAA is part of the problem. 

“I can’t think of anything 79% of Americans agree to, but they agree to that,” Emmert said in response to the first finding, via USA Today.

Emmert said these numbers create doubt around two key notions at the heart of the organization’s mission, which made him ask the questions of what kind of business is the NCAA in and how do they govern it?

“The NCAA member schools — my staff and those schools — have to got to get our arms around it fast. We’ve got to recognize that this isn’t just some little blip that’s going to go away over time,” Emmert said. “This is a real questioning of whether or not the universities and colleges, through the association, can manage their affairs.”

Emmert said the news in September around the FBI probe in bribery and corruption in college basketball was “absolutely shattering” in terms of the public’s confidence in the NCAA member schools’ ability to govern themselves. 

The NCAA recently announced the formation of a commission of college basketball that will be headed by former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, but Emmert said the NCAA will have to take “real action” before the 2018-19 basketball season in order to see significant changes.

“Well, I think it’s pretty damning, and it requires a direct response — not just in words, but in real action,” Emmert said. “Now that doesn’t mean we can do anything tomorrow because we do have to work with all the universities and colleges to get something done. But … we can’t go into the next basketball season without having made some pretty significant changes that restore people’s confidence in, not just basketball, but in the enterprise.”


Ibahim Magu, acting chairman of the
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), says those offering protection
to Abdulrasheed Maina, ex-chairman of Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), have
made it difficult for the agency to arrest him.

Magu, who did not disclose the
identity of the persons allegedly protecting Maina, absolved himself of any
blame in connection to the initial escape of Maina.
In 2013, Maina fled the country
after the EFCC declared him wanted over alleged pension fraud.
The top civil servant returned to
the country under controversial circumstances and was reinstated as a director
in the ministry of interior.
President Muhammadu Buhari
ordered his dismissal and demanded a probe.
Speaking when he featured on
Sunrise Daily, a programme on Channels Television, Magu described Maina’s
reinstatement as “devastating”.
He said the anti-graft agency
would not spare anyone involved in it.
“We would go after everybody who
is involved. I am telling you, we will not spare anybody,” Magu said.
“He has people who are protecting
him and that has made it difficult for us to get him arrested. You can imagine,
he was promoted. It is devastating, it is beyond my understanding.”
When asked if he knew the
whereabouts of Maina, he said: “Of course if I knew why would I be appealing to
Nigerians to give us support.
“We are determined to get to the
root of this matter. That’s why we have renewed the investigation. We will
retrieve all property or whatever must have been stolen from public funds.
“This is something that we have
done as far back as 2011. The matter has been in court, and Maina was also
charged before the court. He was arraigned in absentia. I assure you, we will
get him sooner or later. The national assembly is supporting us. We are
collaborating and we are also giving them support. We have no problem with
national assembly.”
Magu, explaining further said
there are grey areas that need to be tackled appropriately, hence the need for
the renewed investigation.
“There are real grey areas that
need to be tacked properly. All those loopholes and gaps, we will follow it up
and make sure all the people who are involved will face the full wrath of the
law.”
He also said how Maina came back
into the country despite being on EFCC watch list is a case that must be looked
into.
“I really don’t know what
happened. But I know that he has been properly placed on the watch list and he
cannot sneak into this country without the law enforcement agencies. So
something is wrong somewhere. Actually we need to look at that.”
Magu said the support from other
security agencies was not satisfactory, while calling on them and other
Nigerians to give more support to the anti-corruption fight.
“There are some support, synergy,
cooperation from time to time but it is not satisfactory because every security
agency has some responsibilities in the fight against corruption,” he said.
“I want us to be fully committed
in the fight against corruption because the greatest enemy of Nigeria today is
corruption and the corrupt people are now celebrating.
“The way the media and other
Nigerians can help us is to give us information to get Maina arrested.”
Speaking on steps currently taken
by the EFCC to ensure Maina’s re-arrest, he said, “He has already been declared
wanted by the INTERPOL and we are going to visit other countries for
assistance, particularly Dubai, USA and UK.
“We are already on the manhunt,
seriously.”