This will be my last column of the season. Before I go into hibernation for the summer I want to tell you what is right with college basketball, and what is wrong.
To find what is right you have to look no further than Francis Marion and UNC-Pembroke. The Patriots and the Braves played for the fourth time this season in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Tournament.
It was a hard-fought battle between two teams who shared a mutual respect. Francis Marion hit a three with 5.1 seconds left on the clock to tie the game, but UNC-P raced down the court and barely beat the buzzer with a 30-foot game winner.
One team elated. One team heartbroken. Both teams accepting the outcome with class and dignity.
Afterwards, there was not a dry eye in the locker room as our four seniors spoke eloquently about this season and their time at Francis Marion. They spoke of love and commitment and sacrifice, and it was a moment none of us in that tiny room will ever forget.
There are few things in this world that produce such raw emotion. The highs and the lows of a game, of a season, are not easily duplicated and they are wonderful provisions for a young person to carry down life’s winding road.
That is why I became a college basketball coach, and that is what is right with college basketball.
Money is what is wrong with college basketball, at least at the big-time level. CBS, and TNT, and TBS, and ESPN, are all throwing enormous sums of money at the NCAA to televise college basketball.
Consequently, coaches are paid too much, athletic departments are bloated as beached whales, academic integrity takes a back seat, and the workforce (players) accept under the table scraps designed to keep them coming back for more.
The NCAA (our institutions of higher learning) and frankly, you (the viewing public), don’t really give a damn how the sausage is made. Everyone just wants to make sure the sausage is hot and ready to serve in time for tonight’s tip-off.
You notice the NCAA has not declared anyone mentioned in the FBI sting ineligible. They are not going to derail this money train until well after “One Shining Moment” plays on April 2nd.
And that is what is wrong with college basketball. Enjoy the sausage. I’ll see you next season.