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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

 


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - With more than 40 years spent in the college basketball world, Rick Barnes doesn't believe cheating ever will leave the game.

But the Tennessee coach - who says cheating has been going on for 60 years - also doesn't think it's a widespread issue in college basketball as the first trial tied to an FBI investigation into corruption in the sport started in early October.

"Cheating has always been in basketball, as in every sport and in business," Barnes said Wednesday at SEC Basketball Media Day. "We can talk about the business world. We can talk about anything. It has been. Regardless of what comes out of this, it's bad for the game. We all know that; it's bad. I was asked this question this morning: Do I think it's going to stop cheating? I don't think it will.

"The people that want to cheat are going to cheat. What I want people to understand is not everybody cheats. No one should come up and say it's widespread in college basketball. Because it's not. It's not."

The steps toward the trial began in September, when unsealed court documents provided details of a multi-year FBI investigation into suspected bribery and fraud in the sport. The findings - largely alleging money was being provided to steer future NBA players toward specific companies, advisers and agents - led to federal corruption charges against a handful of NCAA assistant coaches and shoe executives.

Coaches, including Louisville's Rick Pitino and an assistant coach at Auburn, lost their jobs as a result of the probe. Louisville, Kansas, Miami and N.C. State have featured prominently in the court proceedings. Schools including Oregon, Creighton and Arizona also have been mentioned because of ties to former five-star recruit Brian Bowen.

"Coaches that have been doing this as long as I have, believe me, we know - when you are in a recruiting situation - what's going on," Barnes said. "... If anybody is saying they didn't, we all know it. The fact of the matter is you choose to stay in it or you choose to get out."

On Monday, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski reportedly referred to the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball as "a blip." The subject was prevalent among SEC coaches in Birmingham even as the court proceedings took place in New York City this week.

Barnes said it's not hard for coaches not to cheat in recruiting; it boils down to making a choice. He said when a coach gets into a recruitment, they quickly find out which way the recruitment will go.

"Then there is where you have to make your choice," Barnes said. "Do I stay in it? If I stay in, what's it going to cost me? Is it going to cost me my reputation? Or do I say, no, that's not for us. That's not the way we do it. You find out over time there's enough players out there for everyone."

Barnes previously said he was not surprised by cheating in college basketball but was surprised at the FBI's involvement last fall.

He wasn't surprised, either, in February when a Yahoo! Sports report detailed the depth of potential NCAA violations involving high-profile players and programs.

But Barnes maintained Wednesday that more coaches do things the right way. Still, he is convinced cheating won't vanish from college basketball.

"Do I think it's going to stop? I don't think it will ever stop," Barnes said. "There's too much at stake. I can only tell you this: Basketball has been really, really good to me. I've been in this business for over 40 years. I can tell you without question, there are so many guys in this business that have done this thing the right way."

"Regardless of what comes out of this, it's bad for the game. We all know that; it's bad. I was asked this question this morning: Do I think it's going to stop cheating? I don't think it will. The people that want to cheat are going to cheat."

Vols coach Rick Barnes

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October 18, 2018
 
 
 

 

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