Men’s college basketball needs to lighten up and quit taking itself so seriously. It’s just a game, guys.

Oh, and tweak the rules in the name of common sense.

The problem with college hoops as a sport is, it’s a business.

The problem with college hoops as a business is, it’s a sport.

And today the smell in the old gym is a fragrant foul.

Inside the college game there exists a murky and cluttered and downright creepy world of allegations including bribery and corruption.

Questionable recruiting tactics have rocked the sport coast to coast. Players who aren’t supposed to be paid are accused of accepting very big bucks.

It’s not merely a casual finger-pointing or tattle-telling this time. The FBI is involved and that always means Trouble with a Capital “T.”

Unfortunately, we’re in an era of leaks and supposed leaks. So these days to be accused of a crime is virtually as bad as committing one.

Thus the basketbrawl mess seeped into our neighborhood. Questionable reporting by ESPN, echoed by other media in lackadaisical follow-ups, attempted to link University of Arizona coach Sean Miller and his superstar DeAndre Ayton in a fix.

But Miller was cleared to coach and Ayton was cleared to play. So was Allonzo Trier, unjustly suspended a second time when a microscopic trace of a banned substance for which he had been suspended last year somehow showed up in a second drug test. The teeny bit failed to pass out of his system after the first test.

The Wildcats fought through the unfair cloud of suspicion to win another Pac-12 Conference championship for the school and for the incredible, faithful fans who pack McKale Center to the rafters, game after game.

The nasty insinuations against UA are mere specks in the greater problem across the country.

Ten people were charged by a federal grand jury of such things as fraud, corruption and bribery when the FBI probe turned up possible pay-for-play schemes. Agents and apparel companies were allegedly using their resources to send prize recruits to big-name coaches in exchange for such future considerations as endorsements, etc.

All this disorder on the court has the judge, NCAA president Mark Emmert, calling on leaders within college athletics to clean it up.

“Scandals that call into question our commitment to academic integrity make whatever praise we have of our highest graduation rates ring pretty hollow,” Emmert said in an address on the state of college sports. “We have to recognize that we can’t dance around those things. We can’t make excuses for them.”

There will be a cleansing of college basketball and it needs it. Not just in recruiting.

How about some attention on such things as the conduct of coaches on — and off — the bench?  How can a coach expect his team to play under control when he acts like a maniac himself?

Coaches, eyes bulging and veins ready to explode, scream at officials constantly. The idea is to influence the refs, of course — but that itself is unfair, stupidly so, and should be ended. Players who scream at officials should be relieved of their duties and sent not to the bench but to the locker room.

The one-and-done policy should be abandoned forthwith. Nothing would improve the game more than telling the National Basketball Association to develop its own rookies. Kids out of high school good enough to play in the NBA and with no interest in college should, by all means, go pro. Those who decide to play college ball should sign up for at least three years or — preferably — until their senior class graduates as the rules once read.

And while we’re at it, would it be asking too much to clean up the appearance of the players? Do they really need tattoos and full beards, long hair and pony tails down to their rear ends? The FBI isn’t interested in these things, but the fans are.

You’re old — in fact you may live in Green Valley — if you remember fan-shaped basketball backboards of white metal, uniform trunks that didn’t resemble pedal pushers and teams whose players looked like athletes and who wore the same color and make of shoes.

Well, glass backboards are a big improvement for the game.

But beards, tattoos, caveman haircuts, pedal pushers and whatever kind and color of shoes they want to wear (some that look as if they came from a neighborhood dumpster) aren’t.

So, clean up the corruption, fellas.

And while you’re at it, clean up the whole act.

Corky Simpson is a former sportswriter who now writes a column for the Green Valley News.

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