It’s messed up. The NCAA is a tackling dummy for a system that has outgrown its sneakers and morphed into an entertainment industry so lucrative that no rulebook or enforcement staff can contain it. In fact, the NCAA is facing another lawsuit — an antitrust action originated by former UCLA player Ed O’Bannon to share profits on use of player likenesses — that would have an earthquake effect on the economic model of college sports.
The roll call of athletes declaring for the NBA Draft has begun: Ben McLemore, Russ Smith, Victor Oladipo. We will say goodbye to Trey Burke shortly.
But interspersed between the rants about money and corruptibility were the shining moments of the tournament. Tim Hardaway Jr. saluting deceased loved ones. Big man Mitch McGary talking about his unicycles and favorite chick flicks. Farewells to the Big East Conference. Rekindled memories of the Fab Five.
Caroline Doty, a fifth-year senior at Connecticut, and Julian Gamble, a sixth-year senior at Miami, pursued masters degrees and a desire to keep playing after overcoming severe injuries. Kevin Ware was in uniform and alongside the teammates who showed such compassion for him when he broke his leg against Duke and made No. 1 Louisville a sentimental favorite.
The 2013 tournament tied 1986 for “most upsetting” (when Louisville beat Duke for the title), calculated DePaul math professor Jeffrey Bergen in a New York Times blog.
We need the inspirational upsets and underdogs the tournament provides. We need the madcap feeling of March and early April. Otherwise, all that’s wrong about college sports and the NCAA provokes the wrong kind of madness.