College Basketball's Dirty Secrets Being Exposed In Blue-Bloods

Greg Arias

The world of big-time college basketball has had their share of scandal in the past, and present as both the NCAA and FBI are currently investigating both Arizona and LSU in what will likely prove to be a nasty fight when and if the NCAA announces their case against both schools. 

The saving grace for the NCAA here is the fact that should the federal government move forward with prosecutions against either Wildcats head coach Sean Miller or Tigers coach Will Wade, that would make the NCAA's job much more manageable.   

Things won't be as easy for the NCAA in the case of the Kansas Jayhawks men's basketball team, who received their notice of allegations from the NCAA last week, and who showed they are prepared for a dirty fight to protect their program.  

"This is a big-time case. It underscores one important thing: People say the NCAA is afraid to go after blue-blood programs. Well, Kansas is about as blue-blood as it gets. Maybe not quite on the level of North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, but just below them," wrote Sports Illustrated's, Pat Forde. "And this is a clear indication that they are not afraid - there is not a sacred cow out there for the NCAA enforcement." 

With all due respect to my learned and accomplished colleague, but Pat must have forgotten the NCAA going after and punishing Kentucky in the '80s and, more recently, their feeble attempt to punish North Carolina in their long-running academic grades scandal.  

There was also the Albert Means scandal against Alabama football that ushers in the Nick Saban era in Tuscaloosa and the Reggie Bush stuff at Southern Cal to prove the NCAA will go after blue-bloods if they think they can get away with it. 

What's changed now as from the Alabama and USC football and the Kentucky basketball deals of the past?

Schools have learned that if they do not cooperate and fight the NCAA, they have a real chance of beating the rap. 

That's what Kansas appears to be ready to do. 

Another blue-blood, Duke's men's basketball team now finds themselves in the eye of a storm of potential impropriates that could damage their reputation, or at worst lead to a potential showdown with the NCAA.

The short course here is that former star, and NBA first-round from Sports Illustrated.   

As detailed in previous SI legal stories, Williamson signed a five-year contract with Prime Sports on April 20, 2019. This was five days after Williamson had declared for the 2019 NBA Draft. The contract called for Ford to serve as Williamson’s marketing representative, meaning the person who would represent Williamson in endorsement negotiations. At no time was Ford Williamson’s player agent (i.e., the person who negotiates his NBA employment contract).

Over the following month, Ford negotiated on Williamson’s behalf with a wide-range of companies and brands. They included Mercedes-Benz, EA Sports and Puma. However, by the end of May, Williamson decided to fire Ford and replace her with agents from CAA. CAA would then represent Williamson in both endorsement opportunities and in his employment contract.

The central legal question is whether Williamson unlawfully breached his contract with Prime Sports by firing Ford and, if so, how much money Williamson owes Prime Sports (Ford) as result. Ford stresses that the marketing contract could only be terminated “with cause,” meaning on account of a serious mistake, such as breaking the law or willfully ignoring a contractual requirement. Ford contends that she made no such mistake and therefore Williamson couldn’t breach the contract without paying her considerable damages. The damages would reflect Ford’s right to a 15% commission on endorsement deals potentially signed by Williamson over the five-years of the contract.

These legal proceedings involving Williamson, should they prove true that he did indeed receive illegal benefits before or during his time in Durham, would be a bad look for the Blue Devils.  Fans of other teams across the nation- people in Lexington, Kentucky, are on the edge of their seats- would relish this like no other.   

The NCAA is not afraid to go after blue-bloods, but will they be able to convict Kansas, and will they even take a run at Duke should there be a case when all is said and done with these legal proceedings involving Williamson?

Kansas is ready for the fight, and I guess that Duke will choose the same path and follow the blueprint laid out by their rivals from Chapel Hill. They were as guilty as could be and yet managed to beat back the NCAA and walk away with an NCAA basketball championship in the same season for good measure. 

There's no denying college basketball is a dirty proposition at some of the top schools, but the NCAA's ability to handle it is slowly slipping away, and the schools know it.  

Follow Greg on Twitter @GregAriasSports and @SIVanderbilt or Facebook at Vanderbilt Commodores-Maven.

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