There's a long, juicy but unsurprising piece on Yahoo! Sports detailing how sports agents have turned to corrupting AAU coaches to get around the NBA's new age limits.
Kevin Love, who played a single season at UCLA last year before being drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves, is the prized athlete in this tale. Ceruzzi Sports and Entertainment is the company that slipped more than $250,000 to a California AAU coach named Pat Barrett so that he might use his influence with his illustrious former players to get them to sign with Ceruzzi.
Representing Ceruzzi's interests out in the field was Jay Williams, former Duke All-American whose professional career came to a halt when he hit a utility pole on his brand-new crotch rocket without helmet, license or contractual permission from the Chicago Bulls.
Love, then in the middle of his freshman season at UCLA, was both annoyed and unimpressed when his former coach Barrett insisted on introducing him to Williams.
He told Yahoo! reporters Josh Peter and Dan Wetzel that:
"If I was going with an agent," said Kevin Love, "why would I ever go with a guy who, no offense, but he crashed a motorcycle into a tree. I'm not going to go with a guy that's reckless."
To his credit, Williams has left the sports agent business. He tells the reporters:
"It's a different level, man," Williams said. "The agents are the guys making a lot of money. Middle people get a [percentage point of a player's contract] here, or cash there. That's how you eat. I've seen grown men get jumped for ratting somebody out. I've seen it. That's one reason I stepped away."
The real culprit in the Yahoo! story is the untenable role of America's academic institutions in developing professional athletes. There is no reason why the world's Kevin Loves and Brandan Wrights should receive their professional athletic training in our academic institutions. No reason, that is, except money: These universities have a vested interest in continuing to earn millions from the unrequited toil of these athletes. To preserve this cash cow, they perpetuate the fiction that their revenue-generators are amateur "student-athletes, " which leads to the rules that, surprise surprise, continue to be violated.
As the story's authors note, the NBA is complicit with the NCAA: Its new age minimum of 19 (the "one and done" rule) literally forces ready professionals like Love to play an unnecessary year in college. As long as these arbitrary and hypocritical restraints on trade continue, there will be violations of the rules that enable the lucrative relationship between academia and professional sports.