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‘Better and cleaner.’ Big 12’s Bowlsby hopes college basketball improves from FBI scandal

NCAA basketball coaches charged as FBI uncovers bribery scheme

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced charges stemming from an FBI investigation into top NCAA basketball programs that also involved a corrupt scheme with a major sportswear company.
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The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced charges stemming from an FBI investigation into top NCAA basketball programs that also involved a corrupt scheme with a major sportswear company.

The FBI has rocked the college basketball world with its corruption case into the sport. TCU is among the latest programs to be involved in the scandal with embattled assistant Corey Barker linked to allegedly receiving a bribe payment.

Kansas is the other prominent Big 12 school involved in it.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby acknowledged it’s always concerning when allegations are levied against member institutions, and opened up that he hopes the end result of it all is an improved sport.

“I hope that whatever process, whether it’s the FBI or NCAA or institutional type things, I hope that whatever is done makes college basketball a better sport,” Bowlsby said from the Big 12 tournament this week. “I think it has all the best parts of college athletics and it has all the worst parts of college athletics.

“Horatio Alger is alive and well living in college basketball. There’s a lot of upstarts that have had great runs and have done a lot of great things from the beginning of the season. You see an athlete that isn’t highly regarded and by the time the NCAA Tournament is over, they’re a big celebrity. All of that is a wonderful thing.

“Having said that, the kids that are involved, many of them are high-risk academically, they’re high-risk socially. As I said, it has all the best parts and all the worse parts. These processes that we’re going through, it would be my hope that it makes the sport better and cleaner and held in better esteem for the good things that it does.”

Bowlsby acknowledged the entire college basketball world’s image has been tarnished by the FBI investigation. This is a sport that has seen three assistants across the country plead guilty to accepting bribe payments, and another set to go to trial in June.

Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino lost his job at Louisville over the scandal, and LSU coach Will Wade is the latest big-name coach in hot water.

Bowlsby knows it’s a bad look for the sport in general, but feels the overwhelming majority of people associated with the game do it the right way.

“It’s kind of like the one-and-done situation,” Bowlsby said. “It gets lots of publicity, but it’s a really, really small group of guys that have a chance to go. And likewise, I mean, you can’t allow the bad stories to besmirch the reputation of all because there are terrific young people involved and there are terrific coaches who are doing it the right way. They constitute the vast majority in my opinion.

“That isn’t to say we shouldn’t aggressively seek to discipline those that are not doing it the right way.”

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