Coaches Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski both gave cryptic and vague answers when asked about the current shoe company pay for play trial this past week and as much as the media wanted to get some sort of angry, fire and brimstone response to satiate a need for a headline… they didn’t get it. At least for me, perhaps the words could have been chosen better but the sentiment is still the same. The game is bigger than this trial, the game will adjust and go on. Those that know their basketball history can attest to this particular scandal albeit great fodder for headlines and a chance for fans to gripe about opposing teams and coaches as being cheaters, will not change the game. Those that want to cheat will find better ways to do it, those that don’t – well nothing changes for them. The product on the floor is still good and still what people want to see and hear about. Sure during the offseason it’s good to get a distraction or two but once the ball is tipped there will be little to know discussion about how this trial ends up or what happens to the schools that may have or may not have been a part of it.
If I’m a head coach my more immediate concerns is the well-being of my team and the preparation for the season. It’s the time of year where distractions are the enemy and my focus, if I’m a coach, needs to be where it is – my guys. What I find a bit disingenuous about the media is that while they clamor to get soundbites from two coaches who’s names, up to this point, have not been mentioned in the scandal – they aren’t going at the names who have been mentioned. First and foremost these coaches are stewards of their respective ships who honestly don’t owe a soundbite to anyone.
When Roy Williams says, “That’s a sad state of affairs for people to think that’s all that goes on in college athletics, because that’s not all that goes on in college athletics,” or when Coach K says “It’s a blip,” or that “It’s not what’s happening.” In my opinion what they are trying to say is that there is a lot more to college athletics than just the current scandal. There will always be cheating on every level, in every sport. The Russian Olympic team doped for decades, the games still go on. Sure the headlines were dominated by it but the sport will never be defined by it. That’s just the way it’s going to be. People, especially reporters will always seek the hyperbole to justify the headline. Are any of you going to stop watching or following the sport because of this trial? Clearly not. To each and every college athlete that isn’t getting money, or every coach that is working towards getting their team ready – it’s not what’s happening.