There will be plenty more student-athletes like Silvio De Sousa who will be unfairly punished thanks to actions of the adults around them.
The Kansas Jayhawks, owners of 14 consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles, lost to Kansas State, 74-67, on Tuesday night.
But the Kansas player who lost the most wasn’t even in uniform. He’s been forced to sit on the sideline and watch helplessly all season as the NCAA proves once again, despite their glowing commercials that say otherwise, that they could care less about some of their student-athletes.
Jayhawks sophomore Silvio De Sousa’s college career was effectively ended last week when the NCAA meted out one of the harshest punishments that a Division I men’s basketball player has ever received.
De Sousa has not played a game this year. He’s been ruled ineligible to compete this season and next year as well. The next time he’s in a game will probably be on a professional basketball court.
So what was his egregious crime?
Well, he actually didn’t do anything. It was his guardian who allegedly wanted a cash payment to secure his college commitment. And since they can’t punish the adult who tried to profit off of a teenager’s talent, they basically ruined De Sousa’s college career.
That’s rather fascinating when you think about it, because the NCAA clocks billions off the backs of its teenage stars, with the players receiving little more than a scholarship.
Some will argue that a scholarship is fair compensation. But when you compare the value that elite players like R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson have added to Duke’s, the ACC’s, the television networks and the NCAA’s bottom line, that scholarship is merely a drop in the bucket of their true worth.
So an adult, whether they be a parent, guardian, handler, AAU coach or whatever can prey on kids and profit from their talent to the tune of a few thousand dollars, only to have the students, the overwhelming majority of whom are Black, have to face the long arm of the NCAA’s legislative law.
But when it’s the universities, conferences, TV suits and others who are lining their pockets, then it’s all good?
That’s a rhetorical question, by the way.
“In my 30-plus years of coaching college basketball, I have never witnessed such a mean-spirited and vindictive punishment against a young man who did nothing wrong,” said Kansas coach Bill. “To take away his opportunity to play college basketball is shameful and a failure of the NCAA.”
With the unfolding college hoops scandals that have been sparked by FBI investigations, only one head coach was fired, Louisville’s Rick Pitino. Assistant coaches at other schools have lost their jobs, with some facing criminal prosecution.
But who has the NCAA chosen to punish at this point? Players such as De Sousa and Brian Bowen, who was at the center of the Louisville recruiting scandal.
As I’ve written previously –
“The three-plus-year federal inquiry and subsequent arrests don’t stem from true criminality, but from an antiquated and exploitative NCAA rule book that won’t allow players, the ones who generate billions of dollars in revenue, to profit from their labor.
The names of some players and their families will be dragged through the mud, as if they conspired with the Mafia to commit fraud against their respective universities. But in actuality, it’s the schools themselves and the NCAA as a whole, that is doing the defrauding.
If you remove the NCAA’s bogus rules on amateurism, because there’s nothing amateur about the close to $40 million that this year’s basketball national champion will generate as a result of them being featured on CBS’ One Shining Moment sign off, then where is the actual criminal case?
So what we have here is a multi-million dollar effort and years worth of FBI manpower used to empower and prop up the NCAA’s bogus rules around their refusal to pay the athletes that generate the revenue, while disallowing them from being compensated for their likeness, doing commercials or merely making a few bucks from their own autographs.
They can’t even have someone take them out to dinner without it being an NCAA rules infraction.
The NCAA’s got the sweetest cartel going since Pablo Escobar’s Medellin operation, with the government’s blessing.
So, some sneaker company execs are willing to shell out $100,000 to an elite recruit, hoping that the kid might one day turn into the next LeBron, Kyrie Irving or KD, i.e. a player with cultural currency that could make their signature shoes fly off of shelves, enhancing the company’s bloated bottom line.
But based on what the top college players bring into their university’s coffers, that $100,000 is a damn bargain.
And my question to the FBI and the NCAA is, how is that player, the sneaker company exec, the assistant coach or whoever else involved in the back alley, black market machinery that’s greasing the wheels of the game’s underbelly, perpetuating a fraud against the respective universities?
…the real scandal is not the crumbs being offered to a few players.
It’s that the FBI is helping the NCAA to defraud the labor force whose talent and exploits feeds everyone else, except themselves.
And the NCAA is hell-bent on keeping it that way.”
With Kansas voluntarily sitting out De Souza this year as it awaited the NCAA’s ruling on his eligibility, we knew that a punishment was coming. But a two-year suspension that effectively kills the kid’s college basketball career? That’s beyond ludicrous.
“University of Kansas men’s basketball student-athlete Silvio De Sousa must sit out the remainder of the 2018-19 season and the 2019-20 season because his guardian received payment from a university booster and agent and agreed to receive additional funds from the same person,” said the NCAA.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s to come for many other college basketball players.
Last year, it was reported that Arizona head coach Sean Miller had discussed a $100,000 payment to ensure that Deandre Ayton would sign there. In addition to Arizona, Louisville and Kansas, schools such as USC, NC State, Oregon, Oklahoma State, DePaul, LSU, Auburn, South Carolina, Maryland, Creighton and others have, at one time or another, been mentioned in the FBI probe.
The NCAA has been sitting tight while the FBI cases unfolded, but now they’re initiating their own probes based on the information pouring out of the courthouses. It seems as if they’re starting with Arizona and Miller, but there will be plenty more to follow.
Luckily for Deandre Ayton, he got out of dodge before the NCAA could ruin his college career. But you better believe that there will be plenty more student-athletes who will be unfairly punished thanks to actions of the adults around them.
And it’s not just their parents or guardians, because the NCAA is just as guilty.