Mike Bianchi: NCAA football is pillar of integrity compared to NCAA basketball

Tribune Content Agency

How do we do it during March Madness?

How do we manage to bury our heads in the sand while simultaneously painting our faces in school colors?

We are either magicians or contortionists.

How else do you explain our ability to raucously stand up and clap our hands while we’re holding our noses at the same time to avoid the stench emanating from the cesspool otherwise known as college basketball?

I hate to be the party pooper and bracket buster and ruin everybody’s fun here, but let’s not forget that arguably the best team in college basketball ― the Alabama Crimson Tide ― is knee deep in the middle of a murder investigation.

But I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. This is, after all, college basketball ― a sport where Ole Miss just hired new head coach Chris Beard, who was fired earlier this season by Texas after his fiance called 9-1-1 and police charged him with felony domestic assault by strangulation/suffocation. The charges against Beard were dropped when his fiance recanted her story.

College basketball ― a sport where coach Kelvin Sampson’s Houston team was the betting favorite coming into the NCAA Tournament. Sampson was fired from his previous college job at Indiana for a laundry list of NCAA violations.

College basketball ― a sport, where defending national champion Kansas is on NCAA probation based upon serious player-buying transgressions that surfaced during the FBI’s years-long investigation into widespread corruption in the sport. Not surprisingly, Kansas’s ultra-successful coach Bill Self not only survived the investigation, the Jayhawks gave him a lifetime contract.

College basketball ― a sport where two other head coaches who were fired amid the FBI investigation ― Arizona’s Sean Miller and LSU’s Will Wade – have resurfaced at other programs. Miller’s new team, Xavier, is in the Sweet 16 and Wade was just hired by McNeese State.

College basketball ― a sport where Rick Pitino is another head coach who was fired (at Louisville) amid the FBI investigation, but he, too, is still working in college basketball. Pitino jumped earlier this week from Iona to St. John’s, which fired its previous coach Mike Anderson “for cause” and refused to pay him the $11 million he has remaining on the contract.

That’s right, St. John’s sent a termination letter to Anderson and said he was being fired for “failure to perform your duties and responsibilities in a manner that reflected positively on St. John’s University” and for “actions [that] brought serious discredit” to the university.

Question: How can St. John’s fire Anderson for bringing “discredit” to the university and then hire Pitino, whose Louisville program regularly hired strippers to perform for players and recruits and who was extorted by a woman he met and had sex with one night after closing time at an Italian restaurant?

Sadly, this all pales in comparison to what’s happening at Alabama, where one player, Darius Miles, has already been kicked off the team after being charged in the murder of Jamea Harris, a 23-year-old mother who just so happened to be sitting in car when she was shot in the face and killed. Police say the gun was owned by Miles, but the trigger was pulled by Miles’ childhood friend, 20-year-old Michael “Buzz” Davis.

According to police, Miles and Davis got into a dispute with a Birmingham man named Cedric Johnson, who owned the Jeep that Harris was riding in when she was shot.

The gun used in the shooting was allegedly delivered to the murder scene by Alabama’s Brandon Miller – maybe the best player in college basketball and a projected lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. The firearm was in the backseat of Miller’s car when Miles texted him at 1:45 a.m. and told him he needed his gun.

Miller ‘s attorney says his client was oblivious and didn’t know why Miles needed his gun. The attorney said Miller had dropped off Miles at a nightclub earlier in the evening and was already on his way back to pick up Miles when he got the text about delivering the gun.

The attorney did not speak to whether his client should have used deductive reasoning and figured out that it’s never a good idea to deliver a gun to a teammate outside a bar at 2 o’clock in the morning.

Miller has not been charged with any crime, although his windshield was shattered by gunfire and originally police said his car and the car of another Alabama player, guard Jaden Bradley, blocked the Jeep that Harris was riding in. Miller’s attorney refuted that report and said Miller had already parked when the Jeep pulled up behind him.

Alabama coach Nate Oats originally seemed to minimize the gravity of the situation when he said Miller was simply in the “wrong spot at the wrong time” ― an unfortunate choice of words for which he has since apologized.

However, even legendary Alabama football coach Nick Saban, in announcing the suspension of Alabama defensive back Tony Mitchell earlier this week following his arrest for possession of marijuana with the intent to sell and/or deliver, seemed to be taking a shot at the way Oats and the Alabama administration has failed to take any action against Miller.

“”There’s no such thing as being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Saban said, obviously alluding to Oats’ previous statement about Miller. “Everybody’s got an opportunity to make choices and decisions. You’ve got to be responsible for who you’re with, who you’re around and what you do, who you associate yourself with and the situations that you put yourself in. There is cause and effect when you make choices and decisions that put you in bad situations.”

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the cesspool of college basketball ― a sport so devoid of ethics and morals that college football is ashamed to be associated with it.