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Is the corruption scandal a cleanser for NCAA recruiting?

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Stronger penalties than the NCAA can lay down - will this change college basketball recruiting?

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Today’s news was jarring to college basketball, for certain. A “league” of amateurs had the very real reality of how some players, coaches and AAU programs receive money to influence decisions laid out.

“We have your playbook,” the Department of Justice quipped. And they are going to come after more coaches, more players and more programs with hard evidence they have acquired.

It will be hard for coaches to know their exposure on this, especially with the now-charged college assistant coaches willing to possibly speak in exchange for a reduction in legitimate penalties, not just the “show cause” the NCAA can slap on a coach.

Note that the show cause has not hurt Pete Carroll, who jumped from Southern California to the pros, or Dave Bliss, who implicated his murdered player as a drug dealer to cover up his payments to said player.

These are real penalties.

For St. John’s fans, these penalties are aimed at an assistant coach who received a commitment from Mustapha Heron to go to Auburn. From a coach who convinced Rawle Alkins to go to the desert over St. John’s. To the AAU director of Nassir Little’s 1Family program in Florida. To the program that is leading for Moses Brown’s services (Louisville).

Schadenfreude?

Maybe yes, since St. John’s was a hot and heavy competitor for each of those players’ services.

Maybe this is the sweeping that college basketball needed. Case in point:

Already, Arizona’s Book Richardson has been fired and Southern California’s Tony Bland has been placed on administrative leave.

Perhaps many other coaches not implicated will know that they can make their pitch without a price tag attached, and won’t have to entertain monetary pitches from runners, assistants and family members who want to receive some cash for a player’s commitment.

But given the willingness to wade into those waters for the players, maybe fans should hold their breath a little all over the Big East, where Brian Bowen was deciding between Creighton and DePaul, where St. John’s was wading into the waters for McDonald’s All Americans, where Providence has been very good at bringing in fairly high-level players.

College basketball (and football) recruiting has always been competitive. Some might say that so-and-so is cheating, but the truth may simply be that a player received a better offer.

And these players have value, despite the NCAA’s student-athlete legal dodge, value above the (inflated) cost of college attendance. They bring in money and attention for schools. They have a future, possibly even overseas, while they wait to be NCAA-eligible. And coaches know that the best players = winning = keeping their job or earning raises.

Keep that in mind.

What does the future hold?

Not speculating what might happen to not-named but easily-Googleable programs involved like Arizona, Louisville, Miami, Southern California and even Auburn, but will the future be different? Teams still want the best players, and if a team is not Duke or Kentucky, they may need an extra inducement to bring in a player to taken them over the top.

Will AAU coaches not look for ways to fund their teams through their valuable relationship coaching and mentoring the players? AAU travel - and the exposure - is expensive, and despite the hate heaped upon the AAU system, the coaches and directors do help players navigate a confusing world of rules and head coach double-speak - all aimed at convincing a player to bring his talents to make their college coach look good.

(College coaches also help mold young men - some do, anyway - but for less-established coaches, it is hard for a player to know how much that coach will actually help their future.)

Will shoe companies decide that they do not want to invest in potentially needle-moving players to make their brand look cool?

Will college assistants not use every means necessary to bring in top talent?

Will head coaches continue to pretend to not know what their assistants do to bring in top talent?

Fans in the know have often expressed disgust at the “cost” to get a top player. Today’s charges will certainly change that cost. And perhaps it will change the way that colleges do business to get a top player.