PITTSBURGH — Pitt head football coach Pat Narduzzi was surprised by the fact that the federal government had indicted several college basketball coaches, shoe company executives, agents and financial advisors.
But he wasn’t surprised by the contents of the indictment, which alleged that shoe companies, agents and financial advisors had been making six-figure cash payments to basketball recruits in order to assure their commitment to specific schools.
Those allegations, long hinted at by those close to Division I athletics, but rarely brought to the light publicly, are nothing new to the college basketball world, and Narduzzi doesn’t believe that it ends there.
“It’s something that you hear when you’re on the road, things (like that) happening,” he said. “I’m glad the FBI investigated the situation. That doesn’t make it even for anybody, when you’re trying to compete off the field for the players, it’s just not the right way to do things. Hopefully, it just makes everybody go, ‘Oh, gosh. We’ve gotta do it the right way.’ That’s how we do it here.”
Narduzzi was asked if he thought that the current scandal had a chance to trickle over into football.
“Trickle over to football or being like that?” he countered. “I think it’s like that in some places. I don’t know where. You hear rumors and all that. We won’t get into that. But, if it’s happening in basketball, it’s happening in football.”
The six-figure nature of the bribes allegedly being paid are a far cry from the days when a booster would slip a potential recruit a $100 bill on an visit. According to Narduzzi, that’s a sign of the big business that college athletics has become. The more money involved, the more opportunities there are for people to take advantage of the situation.
“There’s too much money to be made out there and people think they can get away with it,” he said. “I’m glad the FBI slammed it.”
But there was no level of schadenfreude from Narduzzi, even if he believes some of his rivals may be sleeping uneasily this week.
“It’s sad,” he said. “It’s not a good situation for college athletics, period.”