My 6 loyal readers know how I feel about this topic, but here we go again...
The Sporting News is reporting today that Mississippi State University has retained the services of a lawyer that has experience dealing with other schools in times of crisis, pertaining to potential rules violations and NCAA inquiry.
Because Renardo Sydney is 6' 10", plays basketball, is under the advisement of Sonny Vaccaro and has committed to MSU, after previously making an oral commitment to USC. In the Sporting News report, Vaccaro "acknowledged that he gave the family $20,000 to help with the move (from Mississippi to California)."
On April 24th, I ranted about Vaccaro and this latest admit in The Sporting News sickens me even more. USC and UCLA allegedly rescinded offers to Sydney, because they claimed to be concerned about possible scrutiny into Sydney's story.
So, here we go again. Everyone knows Vaccaro is connected. The former shoe company executive just happens to have $20,000 lying around to help a kid and his family move halfway across the country? And there is nothing in it for him down the road? OK.
Vaccaro is not registered as an agent, but c'mon. Those of us around it know how basketball at this level works: The prominent and powerful AAU teams that circumvent regulation. The ways that runners work under the radar and launder money from different sources, not out of the goodness of their heart, to coincidentally help 6'10" teenagers who can shoot, but as an investment in a potentially greater windfall down the road.
Again, I understand maximizing opportunity, and I do not begrudge a teenager for taking the path that allows them to potentially change the lives financially of those closest to them, but I am first and foremost an educator, and reinforcing the concept that education is a red-headed step child compared to the glamour of fame, to impressionable, naive young people really gets to me.
And that is what is happening here. Again.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the percentage of American adults of all ages with a four-year bachelor's degree was estimated at 17.1 percent in a 2007 Census survey. And we all know what a great career you can typically have with a High School Diploma or GED on your wall. So, we stand by, and let people like Vaccaro continue to ride the wave of these promising, athletic children? And when their wave crashes, where are the Vaccaro's of the world? Certainly not with them. They are back out to sea looking for the next one.