The FBI's Investigation into NCAA Men's Basketball Corruption Facilitates the DOJ's Attempt to Criminalize Violations of NCAA Rules
10 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2018
Date Written: May 12, 2018
The recent indictments of four NCAA Division I Men's Basketball ("Men's College Basketball") assistant coaches in connection with the FBI's investigation into the corruption surrounding Men's College Basketball. The investigation has allegedly revealed that certain athletic advisors engaged in a scheme to defraud whereby such advisors would pay bribes to Division I coaches in exchange for the coaches' steering players to retain such advisors' services. The investigation has also led to several indictments related to an alleged conspiracy between advisors and a sportswear company to funnel money to families of top recruits in exchange for the recruits' commitments to play for schools that are sponsored by the sportswear company. Some of the defendants are facing a maximum sentence of eighty years' imprisonment as a result of the DOJ's attempt to criminalize violations of the NCAA’s amateurism rules. The activity for which the four assistant coaches were indicted should be addressed by the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions, the independent administrative body with the authority to impose sanctions on players, coaches and schools, as opposed to the DOJ because the assistant coaches' conduct does not warrant federal criminal charges. While Congress has reportedly begun to investigate “recruiting practices at some of the most successful, best-known programs in the country,” it should take action to prohibit the DOJ from prosecuting individuals for violating NCAA rules. Congress should propose legislation declaring that the NCAA is the independent administrative body with exclusive authority to impose penalties on student-athletes, coaches and/or institutions for violations of NCAA rules. The proposed legislation should result in the establishment of a committee dedicated to reforming the NCAA rules so that the focus of the NCAA rules shifts from preserving amateurism to protecting student-athletes’ fundamental rights, which will require the NCAA to sacrifice its control over student-athletes’ ability to receive compensation for the use of their names, images and likenesses.
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