The most iconic voice in all of college basketball made itself heard on Wednesday. In an interview with USA Today’s Dan Wolken, basketball commentator Dick Vitale expressed his feelings on the game’s current state.
Vitale made it clear he’s upset about this recently.
In his interview with Wolken, he made it known that his love for the game is genuine, and the corruption infesting it is in no way justified.
I’m fed up with this. I love the game and care about it so much. It just frustrates me.”
One can only imagine how Vitale, a pioneer of the game, must have felt after the FBI broke news of the bribery and corruption scandal. Now, with the season quickly approaching, he could have to go against his instinct during broadcasts. Instead of sharing his thoughts on the dark valleys of college basketball, he’ll have to summon his trademark enthusiasm to speak on the mountain high experiences that come with each game.
Vitale went on to elaborate on how he and many fans are feeling at this time — the feeling of excitement, contradicted by conviction. And he couldn’t be more right.
We’re less than a week out from the first tip, and there’s so much uncertainty. Coaches could be fired, players could be suspended, and more arrests could be made. It’s displeasing to everyone looking forward to the season.
“What bothers me is it’s there laying on your shoulder,” he said. “You want to get excited this time of the year. I usually can’t wait to see the new Diaper Dandies, (Kevin) Knox, (Hamidou) Diallo, all those kids. I can’t wait to see what happens with new players, the big kid at Arizona (DeAndre) Ayton. But hanging on your back like a thousand pound weight is what the FBI is going to do.
“You want to be able to talk about the game in a positive way. But I’m out at lunch yesterday, and a guy says, ‘Man, I’ll just follow the NBA now Dick because they give them the cash, they play.’ How can I argue? It’s frustrating because it’s a topic that is going to dominate the college scene until this comes to a conclusion.”
Vitale expressed that he’s not gullible. He knows that people have been breaking rules for a long time. However, there’s a difference in breaking NCAA regulations and breaking federal law. While neither is good, the NCAA should have the safety of its student athletes at the forefront. It needs to enact real change for its athletes. Until then, young athletes will continue to be preyed upon as investments.
“The NCAA needs a wakeup call, and they have to spend their money,” he said. “They need to get those sleazy characters away from being involved in the game, and they need to finance summer camps. Pay to bring the kids in, utilize high school coaches. Spend your millions on that, and I think we could see some positives. But talk is talk. We’ve got to clean this damn thing up. It doesn’t start with committees. It starts with action.”
Vitale is right. Corruption won’t leave the game until the system itself is purged. On that topic, we’ve a few ideas to share.