KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes wasn’t surprised last week by recent FBI investigation findings that indicate misconduct and corruption in the collegiate basketball recruiting ranks.
Barnes, in his 31st year as a head coach and third campaign with the No. 16-ranked Vols, elaborated on the issues facing college basketball on Monday.
“It just hasn’t been going on the last year and half, we know that,” Barnes said. “It’s been going on for a long time.”
Barnes has emerged as a coach of the year veteran this season, leading a Vols program that was picked to finish 13th in the SEC to a No. 12 RPI ranking and 21-win season to date.
Tennessee has not been contacted by the FBI in relation to the current case first reported by Yahoo Sports.
Here are five things from Barnes’ interview involving the FBI investigation and the issues facing collegiate basketball
1. There will always be a dark element
“People outside of college basketball look at players as a way to invest money. Whether that’s agents or whether that’s financial planners, whatever, and as long as that is there, that’s not going to change. It’s never going to change.
“Do I think things will always go on? I do. Because I think there’s so much greed involved, money involved, and when those things are there, people want to circumvent rules.
“There’s certain things we’re never going to control. We’re not”
2. There’s only so much coaches can do
“What you hope is that when you walk on the floor and you play against another team, you hope they’ve done it right. You hope we’ve done it right, because I can tell you, there’s times — and I’d like to think I know everything that goes on with our program, but I’m not naive enough to think that. Who knows
“You can try to be the strictest of the strict, but if someone wants to infiltrate in some way , believe me they can do it if they really want to. The fact is what you always want is a level playing field.”
3. Paying players wouldn’t solve all the problems
“Think about the percentage agents get for signing a top player. So whatever you pay them, there’s someone that can pay them more, the guy (s) that they think will be pro prospects, because when they they leave, they become a very hot commodity.
“Kevin Durant his first year out of college was the 14th highest paid athlete in the world, he made $27 million. Agents get a percentage of that. So those are the guys, along with financial planners, they see this type of money.
“So do I think it (paying players) will stop that side of it? I don’t.
“Paying players, I don’t think it would solve all the issues that we have.”
4. Nobody in college basketball is perfect
“I’m not going to sit here and say anything about anybody else because I don’t think I’m perfect in any way, and I don’t think anybody has been perfect in any way. Because fact of the matter is, we don’t always know what has happened in our programs. There’s things you find out afterwards that you weren’t even aware of.
“Fact is, I do know that in this business the majority of coaches want to do it right, and that’s the thing in this that’s the hardest thing. There have been a lot of guys who have worked hard at trying to do it the right way.
“(But) it’s always had some corruption, and I think it always will, unfortunately.”
Scholarship reductions more effective than stripping banners
“Do I think there will be some sweeping changes? Yeah, I do.
“I think the NCAA will make the penalties a lot more severe. I don’t know what it means taking away banners and numbers and all that.
“I think what you do moving forward to someone caught in that situation, I don’t believe in the death penalty, but I believe in getting close to it. Whether you take away half the scholarships of a program for whatever period of time.
“I do think this, there’s a big difference in the NCAA investigations and the FBI investigations. There’s a big difference in where it goes.”
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