According to an ESPN report, upwards of three dozen NCAA programs could face discipline stemming from an FBI probe into recruiting violations across college basketball.
For many, including Ed O’Bannon, this is not surprising.
“It has happened for a long time,” O’Bannon said on The DA Show. “It is what happened. It doesn’t happen for everybody, and it doesn’t happen with all 5-star recruits. Some 5-stars don’t take that road, but some do, and it has happened absolutely for a long time. It’s a part of the game, absolutely.”
The probe came to light following the revelation that the family of 5-star recruit Brian Bowen received $100,000 in exchange for his commitment to Louisville.
O’Bannon, who led UCLA to the national championship in 1995, has crusaded tirelessly against the NCAA and its model of amateurism. He even penned a book, Court Justice: The Inside Story of My Battle Against the NCAA.
DA asked O’Bannon if he received payment during his recruitment in the early 1990s.
“I don’t think so – at least I don’t know,” O’Bannon said. “Me personally, I wasn’t offered any money. I don’t know if my parents or anyone else was. I don’t think so. But I can’t speak for anyone but myself. What I will say is I’m sure – you know what? I don’t know. That’s a great question, one that I never really (asked) my parents. I don’t know.”
So wait, more than two decades after his recruitment, O’Bannon claims he doesn’t know if his parents were ever offered money? Is that what he’s saying?
“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” O’Bannon said. “It’s (a question) that I didn’t ask. I think because the decisions that I made and the school that I went to – and I was going to go to UNLV initially. That particular school was my choice. It’s where I wanted to go. And then because they were going to go on probation, UCLA is where I wanted to go. So the decision was mine. It was strictly basketball-based, and it had nothing to do with money. So I understand that players do get offered – and probably their handlers and everybody else gets offered. But me, mine was strictly because those were the schools that I wanted to go to: UNLV and then eventually UCLA.”
Ultimately, O’Bannon believes that the NCAA needs to revisit its definition of amateurism. If not, programs will continue to offer recruits money – and recruits will continue to accept it.
“This is all a result of the rules not changing,” he said. “It’s got to change. That way these kids won’t jump out and look for money.”