Law enforcement officials told The Associated Press and CNN that the suspect was a native of the central Asian nation of Uzbekistan.
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.”