It’s not whether you win or lose…

During her time as U.S. secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice had to navigate the quagmire that is Washington, D.C. One wonders whether she found the world of college basketball to be even more of a swamp.

Rice headed a commission formed to recommend solutions to rampant corruption in NCAA basketball. This week, the panel released a list of suggestions. Most NCAA and higher education officials seemed receptive.

The idea is to ensure that college and university basketball remains an amateur sport. At too many schools, including some of the major basketball powers, it has not been so.

Players are paid under the table in a variety of ways. Agents are bribed to steer them their clients to certain schools. Sellers of some products make under-the-table arrangements with players.

It is all so unsavory and widespread that some have suggested the way out is to professionalize college basketball. Players should be paid, it has been said.

Rice and members of her commission consider a crackdown to recover the sport’s amateur nature is worthwhile.

For it to succeed, college and university officials will have to buy into the system as enforcers. On too many campuses, secret deals have been common knowledge.

That means buy-in by fans and donors to colleges and universities, too.

In short, the Rice commission’s work will be a dismal failure unless all involved start taking seriously the old injunction about the important thing being how you play the game.


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