By NICOLAS IPARRAGUIRRE
During the University of North Carolina’s news media day for its basketball team, Coach Roy Williams was asked about the ongoing FBI investigation concerning players receiving improper benefits. When discussing the investigation, Williams said, “It’s a massive thing that’s still going on, and I’m just dumbfounded.”
Williams was adamant that he had no knowledge of players receiving money from shoe executives in order to play for certain universities. Williams’ claim that he had no idea what has been going on in college basketball recruiting is, at its best, ignorance and, at its worst, an outright lie.
For reference, here’s Notre Dame Coach Mike Brey when asked a similar question, “We’ve had this underworld as part of the fabric [of college basketball] for a long, long time,” Brey told the Indianapolis Star. “A long, long time.”
Another issue with Williams’ claim is that he was indirectly involved in a similar incident back in 2000. Back then, AAU Coach Myron Piggie had been indicted on charges that he had funneled money to recruits to play for Nike schools. One of these recruits was JaRon Rush, who was at the time committed to Kansas when Williams was coach there. While Kansas was not involved in the payments to Rush, for Williams to claim he had no idea what was going on in college basketball recruiting is a bit of stretch.
While not a reliable source of information, in response to Williams’ press conference, Piggie told Yahoo Sports, “Well, that [expletive], I mean, come on. Come on. You know Roy knew. He was in the mix. He knew what was going on. Roy’s got amnesia.”
When a massive figure in college basketball makes such a definitive statement, one that on the surface seems untrue, college basketball sportswriters have a duty to question Williams’ statement.
Unfortunately, outside of Yahoo Sports, most major news media figures have not even mentioned Williams’ statement. Currently, ESPN has not written a single story on the comments and the sports two biggest media figures, Jay Bilas and Jeff Goodman, have made no mention of them.
While most in the news media have no issue broadly claiming corruption in college basketball exists, they were hesitant to criticize the coach at one of college basketball’s most popular teams. Until members of the news media are willing to question those at the top, don’t expect the corruption to end any time soon.