FMU men's basketball coach Gary Edwards' column for 11-18-17
There is no getting around it. The 45th President of the United States just loves to tweet.
He will tweet in the morning. He will tweet in the evening. He will tweet all over this land.
He will tweet out danger. He will tweet out warning. He will tweet out love between my brothers and my sisters…ok, ok, now I am losing my head.
But this week Donald Trump took the time to tweet about the three UCLA basketball players who were detained in China for shoplifting. They had the opportunity to shoplift in China because UCLA was there to play Georgia Tech in a basketball game sponsored by the e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba.
"Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you, Mr. President? They were headed for 10 years in jail."
And just when I thought pigs couldn't fly, the three UCLA basketball players, at a press conference held on the UCLA campus the day after their return, did indeed thank the President for helping in their expedited release.
One of the three, LiAngelo Ball, is the son of Lavar Ball, patriarch of the basket Ball family and founder of the Big Baller Brand of shoes and apparel. He likes to tweet, too, but prefers to verbalize his ignorant musings.
At the time of his son's arrest, he commented, "Everybody is making it a big deal…it ain't a big deal."
So I was shocked when the three players humbly accepted responsibility for their actions, admitted how stupid an act it was, and thanked the many people who did indeed keep their collective butts out of a Shanghai prison.
But leave it to UCLA coach Steve Alford and Athletic Director Dan Guerrero to bring me back to reality. When discussing the punishment for these young men, Coach Alford said the three would be suspended "indefinitely."
Where have we heard that before? That's right, less than a year ago Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski suspended star guard Grayson Allen "indefinitely" for being a serial tripper out on the court.
That indefinite suspension lasted one game, a game Duke lost to Virginia Tech. And Coach Krzyzewski, a guy who is supposed to be a master coach and educator, squandered an opportunity for real teaching.
Let's hope Steve Alford and all the good folks at UCLA don't squander this opportunity for teaching. I hope they understand their responsibility not only to the students at their own institution, but to the young people of this country and to others around the world.
They are not off to a good start. A year's suspension would have been a clear message. An indefinite suspension whispers so softly I can hardly hear it.
But we will wait and see. When I know more I will be sure to send out a tweet.
FMU men's basketball coach Gary Edwards' column for 11-11-17
The kind of events that once took place will by reason of human nature take place again.
Thucydides, Greek Historian
On November 22, 2003, I wrote a column for the Indiana (PA) Gazette which included the following paragraph:
You see, there is a lot of cheating going on in Division I basketball. The big name coaches have devised a system where they are insulated from the cheating, but do not be naïve enough to think it does not go on. A booster funnels money into an ATM account. A car dealer arranges special financing for a fancy SUV. Players benefit, but so do the summer AAU coaches and the unseemly "handlers" who influence where top recruits go to college.
Five years later, in a column about the NCAA, I wrote:
For 43 years Sonny Vaccaro has been one of the most powerful men in college basketball. Known as the "Godfather", Vaccaro signed college basketball coaches to lucrative shoe deals and started grassroots summer basketball programs for Nike and Adidas. When asked how many of the elite coaches in this country built their programs honestly, Vaccaro replied, "I guess three coaches, maybe four…I'm not 100 percent sure about one guy."
These two excerpts are from The Columns of Coach Gary Edwards, now available from Amazon, and show while the names may have changed, the cheating never has. Remember Dave Bliss, Jim Harrick, and Kentucky assistant Duane Casey? Just replace them with Rick Pitino, Josh Pastner, and Auburn assistant Chuck Person.
Back in the early 1990's, when I was the head coach at Charleston Southern University, a transfer from Clemson came to my office one day and asked me, "Coach, when do we get our Sunday money?" It seems while he was a basketball player at Clemson he, and selected other players, would get an envelope filled with a couple of hundred dollars every Sunday.
The young man was extremely disappointed when I informed him not only did we not have any Sunday money, we didn't have any Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday money, either.
Yes, Virginia, there has always been cheating going on in college athletics.
The difference now is the federal government is involved in investigating this cesspool. In the weeks leading up to this college basketball season high profile assistants have been indicted on federal bribery, fraud, and conspiracy charges.
It is one thing to be investigated by the Keystone Kops of the NCAA and be suspended for a few games. It is another thing entirely to be investigated by the FBI and spend a few years at Sing Sing.
That is why I believe this latest scandal will lead to real change and perhaps the long overdue dismantling of the NCAA. It will help the coaches who do it the right way (I would bet my mortgage Clemson Coach Brad Brownell doesn't hand out Sunday money) and expose the imposters.
Speaking of things taking place again, on January 9, 1986, I coached the Bulldogs of Atlantic Christian College to an 82-70 victory over Lenoir-Rhyne. I hope to do the same tonight with my Francis Marion Patriots.